Wednesday, July 16, 2008

French Creek in the Summer

I simply cannot say enough to praise our wonderful French Creek. As a result of hard work by the French Creek Project and French Creek Conservancy, this treasure of a waterway is home to 27 different species of freshwater mussels and provides habitat for a myriad number of fish and wildlife.

We paddled a section of the creek again last Friday. A small group of us put in at Rt. 97 near Union City, PA, and paddled 9 1/2 miles to Rt. 6 near Mill Village. Along the way we caught a glimpse of a Northern Harrier, some deer and as usual, an eagle or two. I can never get enough of this creek, especially this particular section.

I first paddled a portion of this stretch back in the early 80s when my friend and canoe mentor, Jim Gardner, introduced me to it. With very few houses or cottages along the way, the creek meanders through woodlands and farm fields. The birdsong never fails to delight us, with warblers, cedar waxwings, various hawks and many redwings all contributing their various squeaks, squawks and trills. The cedar waxwing: what a great bird this is! They perch in the tops of the trees along the banks and flit out to chase down and grab a mouthful of insects, landing back in the trees to devour their catches. We usually see hundreds of them along the stream. Kingfishers often fly out and rattle their presence as they head along above the water, watching for a careless fish to swoop down upon. Merganser mamas swim along with their little broods trailing behind, trying their best to climb aboard mama's back to hitch a ride.

I'm going to cut this short...I suddenly have the urge to get out a canoe and go paddling!