Sunday, March 22, 2015

Peepers, Osprey and Fish

It was a good day. Spring seemed to arrive in one swoop, though the progression to this day has been underway since winter started. Osprey whistled overhead while peepers peeped in a sweet chorus from the wetland. I slipped into Stoney Creek and the Amtrak Acela train whistled past, carrying all those people to their important appointments at their important destinations. Darters instantly scattered across the bottom, then stayed where they were so that I could slowly approach. A school of some kind of silver minnow hung in the roots of an undercut tree. Other minnows work against the current as they move back upstream. I have seen these fish occasionally through the winter, wedged out of the current under larger rocks, waiting for the warm. I flow over the cobbles with the current to the deep pool under the bridge. A school of a couple hundred banded killifish has gathered. There are a few small sunnys mixed in. Migrations happen on a number of temporal and geographic scales, and I’m pretty sure the mass gathering of fish in this deeper hole is the beginnings of a short range dispersal from wintering grounds back to their summer range. Soon the longer distance migrants will be back, the herring and shad, and Stoney Creek will run silver. The water is still cold, but noticeably warmer than it was even just last week. The arrival of spring has been in the works for weeks. Subtle changes in temperature and precipitation triggered hardly detectable shifts in the abundance and composition of the fish I encountered, but it seems like life has erupted on this one day. The beginning of life’s spring time emergence is certainly in full swing and the full of life glory that defines our rivers and streams is once again apparent.

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