blue herons

sup touring

Tualatin River

Over the course of two days, starting at Tualatin Community Park,  I paddled upstream 99W Bridge and then down stream to Shipley Bridge (indicated by the lightened portions of the river). During this time I saw three Herons, one black faced and light blue/grey bird that I have yet to identify, and many Mallards.

One of the most visceral components of paddling on the Tualatin (and in the Portland Metro area, in general) is the many underpasses. Of course in Bend there are underpasses, however they aren’t as tall and as intimidating. I know it sounds silly but when you float under a bridge, the shift to industrial ambiance seems towering and never ending. It’s dark, echoing, and enclosed. Such a stark contrast to the usual feel of a float, wide, open, and sun baked. This can really snap the navigator to attention.

After one such moment, emerging from an underpass, I realized a Heron was 50 feet in front of me enjoying the early fall temperatures. I stopped paddling and the river gently pulled me closer. At our closest proximity we were separated only 10 feet. He, sitting on one foot atop a snap, and me cross legged on my board. Mesmerized by his lightly stripped beard of flowing feathers, at one point he collected one of his two legs, retracted it into the beard and began to nap on the on the one remaining. Shortly there after, he began a series of calisthenics that could only be described as Heron Yoga. When it was time to shove off and continue the paddle, I frightened him with a paddle dunk and he flew off to the low lying Doug Fir branch.

The least visceral component of the Tualatin is low flow. One seems to work just as hard paddling up stream as down, although, I have found this a blessing when photographing wild life. With turbid water sweeping you down stream, it can be hard to spot wildlife in time to stall on the shoreline. By the time you see the tall tail signs of wildlife, feather preening, a turning head or opened beak, you’d cause a big ruckus to stable yourself for the shot. I count my blessings my father lives so close to a great training location!


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