I have always wanted a kayak. A few years ago, I would go to garage sales and flea markets religiously in search of one I could call my own, but getting a boat was put on hold when I got sick. Thanks to my parents, I finally have one! Paddling fits in perfectly with my recovery treatment plan– it allows me to exercise while sedentary, which is POTS-friendly, and moving my arms more effectively strengthens my heart than does walking or cycling. Also, the movement of the boat challenges my vestibular system in processing my spatial orientation and keeping balance.
My maiden voyage took place today at Chambers Lake in Chester County, PA. The goal was to get to know the kayak, with a potential bonus of seeing a night heron or some other uncommon wading bird along the shoreline. Hannah and I put our kayaks in and headed for the opposite shoreline– an area of the lake that is (as far as I know) inaccessible by walking and that I was excited to explore. The coves had mostly still water and were overgrown with vegetation, which reminded me of canoeing around the lake at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon Rainforest. While moving along the lake perimeter, we observed a few Green Herons, a pair of Yellow Warblers, a large flock of Canada Geese, and a single Mute Swan. Unfortunately, one of the juvenile Canada Geese had it’s legs tangled by fishing line and was having trouble swimming.
As we continued along the shoreline, we heard the begging calls of a juvenile songbird. We both stopped, and I grabbed my binoculars, searching for movement in the willow trees. Suddenly, the adult bird came in to feed the begging fledgling, and I recognized it immediately as a Prothonotary Warbler!
I had been trying to see this species for the last two or three years, and absolutely never expected to come across it at Chambers Lake! Especially in the breeding season. Even more exciting than seeing this new life bird was the context of observing it’s breeding behavior.
Throughout the rest of the paddle, we saw Purple Martins skimming the surface (I guess to get a drink of water?) and a Great Blue Heron flying at eye level. The whole trip took about an hour and a half, and I was amazed at how OK I felt throughout. I can actually feel myself getting stronger! I couldn’t stop thinking of how thankful I was to be able to be out on the water– to be having these kinds of experiences. The ability to be active and adventurous feels so incredible after knowing what it’s like to lose it. I saw Chambers Lake today like I’ve never seen it before, and I can’t wait to visit other new locations! Next on the list is Dragon Run in Delaware.
For an eBird checklist of all the birds we saw at Chambers Lake, click here.