Your intrepid nature columnist experiences a close encounter of the loon kind on the Campbell River estuary.

Tranquil Campbell River estuary teems with life

This nature writer cannot recommend a more enchanting activity than a tranquil estuary paddle

Between tides, the still waters of Campbell River’s estuary resemble smooth glass, clear enough to see bottom.

Magical, some say mystical places, where rivers meet the sea, estuaries teem with life, above and under water.

This nature writer cannot recommend a more enchanting activity than a tranquil estuary paddle, wherein may be found sights and sounds of a waterway full of life, with bracing salt air as a bonus.

Drifting within a few metres of a visiting red-throated loon, my paddling companion, Brian, and I watched ‘Lulu’ – a daily presence this summer – as she preened unconcerned.  A great blue heron, feeding silently in high grass at water’s edge, revealed itself with a flash of colourful and dagger-like beak.

Seals popped up from time to time, gazing at the human passers-by with puppy-dog eyes as if to determine what species we may be. Seafood is plentiful within the estuary, particularly at this time of year. Raccoons and other waterside mammals, bald eagles and turkey vultures join in the feast.

Early in September, chinook salmon congregate in the estuary, leaping clear out of the water at times, in their frenzy to reach spawning gravel upstream.

Survivors of autumn’s final wildflower flush dot the landscape at water’s edge with colour: red paintbrush, purple asters, yellow monkey-flowers, wild Pacific crabapples and pink Henderson checker-mallows (these wild marsh hollyhocks, now endangered, grow in abundance at this location).


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