Friday, April 28, 2017

Prudence Island Springtime

Prudence Island lies in the middle of Narragansett Bay, RI.

Outward bound from Fall River at sunset.

A three-day trip to nearby Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay, RI in mid-April was my first sailing trip in almost two years.  Squeezing my bicycle into my little fifteen-foot boat enabled me to tour almost the entire island looking for signs of spring.  The story of the modest voyage to and from the island is here, as is lots of house porn.  The trip I made three years ago is also well-worth the look.

Prudence Island is about five miles long with a year-round population of around a hundred.  (The little schoolhouse typically has only a few youngsters, with older kids going to mainland Portsmouth by ferry every day.)  Since the late 1800s the island has been a summer colony, but at the time of my trip very few of the summer residents had returned, so it was very quiet.  A village on the east side of the island has most of the population and nearly all the more modest homes and smaller lots.  Roads in the village are mostly paved.  Roads outside the village are unpaved but regularly graded: not bad for cars, but challenging for a bicyclist due to all the rocks unearthed by the grader's blade.

Because of its closeness to water (less than a mile at any point), the island experiences less extreme temperatures than my hometown of Brockton, thirty-six miles north and east, and some dozen miles inland at least.  How does that difference effect spring emergence?

I spent two full days on the island; the first on bicycle, the second on foot.

Algae in the shallows on Hog Island--a first stop before Prudence.

Seaweeds in the shallows.

Peaty hummocks support salt marsh edge life by Potter Cove., where I anchored.

 A multi-year marsh restoration project aims to kill the invasive Phragmites reed
(tall tufted grass in foreground) with mowing and herbicides so that natives can come back.

Marshy ground with blooming red maple.

Blooming red maple and willow frame the water off the west coast.

West coast Bay Avenue and shoreline.

Bay Avenue shoreline.

An old stone wharf on the west side is due to be restored.
(There is no public dock on this side of the island.)

Layered sandstone on the west coast has quartz veins and pits weathered through individual layers.

Eighty-five percent of the island is protected in one way or another.  The NBNERR
--a federal/state partnership that does long-term ecological research--holds the largest amount.
The Audubon Society holds land, also.

Stone walls on School House Trail.

Trails in the middle of the island converge on the old abandoned Baker Farm.

Foundations of the Baker Farm barn, house and later hotel.

 Japanese barberry has leafed-out.

Lichen fallen from a tree branch.  The disk-like things are for reproduction.
 Apple leafing-out in the old orchard.
 Willow in bloom.
 I'm embarrassed to say I don't know what this shrub with delicate flowers is.
 Salt march covers a large part of the narrow neck near the northern end of the island.

I disturbed a pair of osprey nesting atop an old chimney.  They were not happy with me.

 Blueberry and red maple in bloom.

 Red maple with another mystery shrub.
 Multiflora rose is everywhere and leafs-out early.
 Three egrets is practically a convention, but they decamped on my approach.

 Paper birch ready to flower.

Weeping cherry, I think.

 Something in the Rose family: apple probably.

 Daffodils in a pleasant garden.

 Flowering dogwood exposing individual flower buds.
Rose family, perhaps apple or peach.

This snake was limp and didn't move at all when I touched it: either Very Mellow, or freshly dead.

Blueberry, red maple.

Returning to the boat at the cove, I surprised Canada geese.

Willow in flower by the cove.

I was surprised to find burrows of purple marsh crabs in the salt marsh so high above water level.  Though native to the marsh, increased population is damaging the all-important cordgrass.

Deer have been by.

 The marsh around the cove developed on a rocky shore, and some of these rocks still protrude.  Rough terrain for a bicycle.

Surprise at anchor at high tide.  The separate line to shore allows me to pull the boat in to go aboard.

Leaving Potter Cove to begin the return trip.

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