Rain dimples the surface of the pool at the Amtrak bridge. This is one of my favorite spots. Largely because there is such an amazing hidden world right under the noses of people using the Amtrak rail line above and they have no idea how amazing this world is. How many similar non-descript unnoticed creeks does this train cross in its travels? How many thousands of people don’t know what they are missing?
The cobbles are covered in a thick emerald green shag algae. Days are lengthening but the winter is protracted by low temperatures so everything is delayed. Herring aren’t running yet and the crew of grazers that would normally keep this algae in check aren’t active due to the ongoing cold. The river is only 40 today. The result is thick billowy green covering anything hard in this section of creek.
A small fish darts from the shallows. I can’t identify it, but the background shows through its translucent body. I am able to follow the fish for only a few minutes before it blends into the stream bed and I lose it.
A serpent like creature emerges from the green and swims at me. This is the second leach I have seen in a week after never seeing any in the 7 years I have been exploring rivers. They have probably always been here just not seen. The lack of herring makes me look at other life that was likely here this time of year in the past, just not noticed due to the prevalence of herring that drew my attention away from the more cryptic.
The leach startled me. It looked like a long streamer in the wind when it swam and seemed to intentionally search for something. Seeing this leach spawned a bunch of questions. What is their ecology? How does it live? Can it make its way back upstream?
A sawdusty clump of beaver feces lay on the bottom beneath a floating beaver chew. The single small fish I saw earlier found a few friends and the 3 fish school nearly disappeared over open sand bar habitat. Sometimes the most amazing sights are out in the open just waiting for us to see them. Like this small stream under the Amtrak bridge.