Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Pompton Lake/River
by Betty Wiest

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Participants: Manfred J., Peter W., Naomi W., Bruce D., and me.

Unpredictable! Perhaps that is what one could say about the day. Originally scheduled for a 9 a.m. launch on Sunday, the weather appeared to be iffy so we changed the time to a 3 p.m. launch. Half the group had to back out.

I was able to flip/flop my plans so that we could paddle and take advantage of clearer skies in the afternoon. As I was travelling north on Rt. 287 to make our meet up time the weather was gorgeous until I got to Route 23 exit. The sky became ominous and rain began to fall. Oh, dear…..this does not look good I thought. I got to the launch at 2:15 and found Bruce getting his gear all together. We chatted and decided….WE ARE KAYAKERS!....rain will not deter us. By the time we all arrived and got our boats to the launch the skies were clearing nicely.

The wind had died down making paddling a dream. While algae covered some of both lakes, it did not deter us. We saw quite a few swans, a Great Blue Heron, several cormorants, a few turtles and a few ducks, making the wildlife fairly impressive. A number of fisherman were out trying their luck.The paddle lasted two hours, not a drop of rain, and then topped off with Manfred’s hospitality.

Peter and Naomi left for home after a while, leaving Manfred, Bruce and me commiserating. Suddenly, we heard a great commotion coming from the water just behind our picnic table. It drew our attention immediately! And what we witnessed was a extraordinary event in nature….a prime example of survival of the fittest.

A male swan was attacking a Canadian goose on the edge of a very small island. The swan was flailing its wings all around…in the water, in the air, and swatting and sitting on the goose. The swan was vicious and relentless in his pursuit of attacking the goose, even to the extent of grasping at the goose’s neck. Eventually the swan moved away towards its mate and several cygnets (baby swans). Then it came back.

The male swan continued to beat upon the goose. And then it moved away again. The goose seemed like it was having a tough time getting onto land (the island). Then what we discovered amazed us. The goose was also being attacked by a snapping turtle. The turtle had the goose’s leg in its mouth and could not get away. The goose was trying soooooooo hard. After a few moments the snapping turtle dragged the goose under water and all we could see were a few air bubbles. A few more moments passed. We thought it was all over for the goose but much to our surprise the goose emerged apparently in fairly good form. It began swimming away.

The three of us stood there with our cameras capturing some of the flurry of excitement in the water. We chatted excitedly. This was better than the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiano fight! (I didn’t actually see it.) In the end I think the male swan was just showing off its prowess in front of his family as he strutted off thinking he was the victor.

Really----it was quite something we rarely see.


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