Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Last Song of Summer

Autumn leaves on Lake

A warm October afternoon.
Clear blue sky, sunshine and ever the slightest breeze.
Perfect for canoeing on Caesar Creek Lake.
Even more perfect than one of a summer's day.

The water level is low.
Either in preparation for catching winter runoff or as a result of this season's dryness, this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project reveals the remnants of the many trees that once covered the banks of Caesar Creek, before the nearly 3000-acre lake was created in the late 1970s.
Navigating between them becomes a sort of slalom course.
Large muddy swirls appear and obscure the bottom, as startled fish scoot from beneath us.

Great Blue Heron in tree

Broad expanses of exposed silt and sand become attractive feeding grounds for herons and migratory shore birds. The broad belly of our red Old Town canoe, barely clearing the shallows-- now, not more than several inches deep.

Killdeer on mud flats, gulls in background

Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca

Yellowlegs with Killdeer, for scale

Cormorants float, neck-deep in blue water, then emerge to sun, wings held high on one of many protruding logs.
Back and forth, in small flocks they fly past us--almost at eye-level.
So close that I can see their orange chins clearly.

Double-crested Cormorant , Phalacrocorax auritus
sunning with out-stretched wings

In the narrowest finger, we paddle on, past shores crawling with late summer brightness.

Morning Glory

Inaccessible to all except canoes and kayaks, this undisturbed water is clearer than the usual murky brown of mid-summer.

Northern Water Snake, Nerodia sipedon

Autumn leaves in clear water

And from the sunny shore, a katydid sings summer's last song.

all photos click to enlarge

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Cicero Sings said...

A beautiful, warm afternoon here as well ... even though yesterday was drear and snowy!! Felt like a late summer day revisited. I wish we could have gotten out on the lake but we only walked along it ... we don't have an extra boat space for our current house guest.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

As a hydrologist, I really enjoyed your post: great blend of photos and narrative. Is Caesar Lake associated with Rodman Dam? Or is it a different water way?

nina said...

Robert--Caesar Creek Lake is in SW Ohio and, from what I can tell, Rodman Dam is in central Florida? It seems they're unrelated, except for the fact that they're both Corps of Engineer projects.
You'd know the Florida history better than I.

Anonymous said...

It is almost time for that last hurah!

mick said...

A great post and a very interesting canoe trip. I like the photos of the shorebirds - especially the Greater Yellowlegs. They are rarely sighted in Australia. I was out in my kayak yesterday morning trying to get photos of shorebirds which have recently returned here for the summer - but they were not cooperative!

Michelle said...

Beautiful photos, and what amazing scenery. The water shots are especially striking.

GreenishLady said...

What a lovely post. I really enjoyed the outing!

JeanMac said...

All your pictures are beautiful but I love the first one best!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It always makes an area look haunted when I see these drowned tree stumps.

kjpweb said...

Woah! Great selection!
Excellent! Fun to tag along!
Cheers, Klaus

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Oops. I was thinking (and it sure did look like) north Florida. Your right about the Corps, they are everywhere.

The Tile Lady said...

Nina, once again exquisite photos! I especially loved the blue heron in the tree, and the morning glory. But the Lake was gorgeous in every shot and I bet you had an interesting time navigating its waters since it's low. Maybe better than running the canoe over the tops of those sharp treetops when they are submerged, though, I would think. Wonderful post!

kate smudges said...

Gorgeous fall photographs, Nina! I love the tree stumps - they are beautiful. Hope you continue to have lovely autumn colours!

MojoMan said...

The clicky-chirping of the katydid always makes me a little sad. As the cold of autumn descends on us and each day gets colder than the one before, they sing ever more slowly, until they stop.

nina said...

Mojoman--I feel the same.
I notice their songs start--strong and in great numbers. By mid-august the chorus of hundreds is chanting, "rant rant, rant rant rant, rant rant rant rant."
I recall the regret I'd feel, knowing the kids soon would be back to school and away from home for long days.

On this golden leafed beach, just 2 were singing. Probably also feeling that everyone else had already gone.