MD - Patuxent - Jug Bay - 2006/12/17



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Off season, the park no longer charges an entrance fee. We take advantage and do a little bird watching on a short day paddle.




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On Sunday, I met Gina, Hank, Lisa and Julio for a day paddle on the Patuxent River. We met around 10 am at the
Patuxent River Park Visitor Center on Croom Airport Road. Normally there is a fee to launch in the park but during the winter months the fee is waived. We launched downstream from the visitor center at Selby Landing and paddled upstream. It was a leisurely paddle and we stopped several times to look at the birds along the river.

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Both Gina and Julio carry waterproof binoculars. The only way I can see the birds in any detail (because I never wear my glasses on the river) is by paddling up fairly close. I also like to photograph birds. So I've worked out this little technique for getting good shots of birds on the water. First I turn on the camera and set the image stabilization feature on. Then I set the zoom. Then I hold the strap of the camera in my teeth and start paddling towards the birds. It usually takes most waterfowl a few minutes to decide to exit. When I'm sufficiently close to the birds and the kayak is moving forward, I stop paddling and get ready to shoot. The kayak slows down and gradually I get close enough to the birds to get a decent photo. I've had some good shots this way.

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So when Julio pointed out a group of Muscovy Ducks paddling close to the shore I set my camera up and began paddling towards my photo prey. Amazingly I paddled right up to the ducks and they never moved. They just paddled around right in front of my kayak. I was feeling pretty good about my incredible skill at not scaring the birds until Gina told me that they were pretty sure the ducks were tame. So not only were they not afraid of me they were probably posing for the camera!

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We paddled farther upstream past another put-in at Pennsylvania Avenue until the river started to narrow considerably. It was a little after noon and I was getting pretty hungry. But the shore in this section of the river is just mud and reeds. Fortunately there are numerous duck blinds and we found the cadillac of all duck blinds for our lunch stop. This one had a pier and decorative evergreens. Chocolate seemed to be the snack of choice with dark chocolate being the favorite among the group.

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We got back to the put-in and were greeted by Rick and his two dogs. Rick is a paddling friend who is recovering from surgery on his elbow. This is the second time Rick has greeted the group coming back from a paddle. Hopefully he'll be paddling again soon. Thanks to Gina for organizing and inviting me along. Hank explored the lower Patuxent back in June. To read his trip report
click here.

-Susanita

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