The Day of Egrets and Turtles

Yesterday, I did Charles River Canoe and Kayak’s Shuttled River Trip down the Charles again, this time with my sister and brother. The weather was wonderful — beautiful and clear, dry and comfortable. The way the trip works, they drive you and the boats to the put in on South Street in Needham, and you follow the river downstream as it winds through Needham, Dedham and West Roxbury back to Newton. The Dedham stretch, especially, is very scenic, and I’ve done the trip several times before.

This was the first time in my own boat, and the first time I’d carried it with my new Thule Hullavator. Up until now, I’ve been carrying a bench along with me to act as a step stool to help me get the boat on the car roof. I allowed some extra time in the morning to deal with figuring out how to work it, and to set up the fastening straps, but it was entirely painless. It’s expensive, but it works. It has swing arms that come down over along the side of the car, where you can load the boat on and strap it down at chest height. Then its spring loaded arms do most of the work of getting the boat up on the roof. It performs exactly as advertised.

Despite the fact that it winds through suburbia, there’s a lot of wildlife on the Charles. It seems like each trip features something different. You almost always see canadian geese and mallards. But some trips, you see a lot of great blue herons, some days there are swans. Some days you don’t see any turtles, other days they’re all over the place.

Yesterday featured the egrets. We saw a few great blue herons further off, and my sister Nancy, who’s a birder, recognized several other kinds of birds, but we saw several egrets along the bank, up close. And it seemed that every dead tree trapped at the river’s edge was covered with painted turtles basking in the sunshine.