Finding Eagles In An Estuary

Kayaking in the Bush River, Maryland

It was a beautiful spring day and I had been itching to go on the first kayak trip of the year. Lucky for me, the Otter Creek Marina and its location on the Bush River were a quick drive away! The Bush River has its own Canoe Trail in the surrounding estuary, thanks to the work of the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center.

Alex and I parked at the marina, since there is free parking, and launched the kayaks using the marina’s boat launch. From there is was a quick paddle out and to the right, heading inland.

The Wildlife

The Bush River has a ton of cool fauna to see, including otters, beavers, muskrats, deer, osprey, terns, herons, and eagles. And that’s not even mentioning the countless species of fish that were swimming through the grasses under our kayaks.

We were lucky enough to see an otter swimming just outside the marina! Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough with the camera. It poked its stout head out of the waterline and dove back under before I even could reach into my life vest.

Although the open water outside of the marina is nice, it’s the canoe trail that offers peace and quiet away from the nearby roads. The canoe trail is marked with numbers, so it’s easy to follow. For a detailed map of the canoe trail and directions, please visit the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center, just before you get to the marina.

Back In The Estuary

Once further into the grasses, the sounds of the marina and nearby houses die down and you are left with a plethora of birdsong. If you like to fish out of your kayak, this is a great area for it. 

Passing through the grasses you’ll hear blackbirds, great blue herons, wood ducks, and the occasional cardinal or sparrow. If you’re lucky, you may hear the slap of a beaver tail or even see one, since the area is full of them.

I was particularly interested in seeing bald eagles, which for me is a bird I am always eager to watch. On the edge of the Bush River, they are always fighting with osprey or diving down to snatch a fish. There are few places in the lower 48 where you can watch eagles really thrive in the wild, but this is one of them!

Coming along the canoe trail, there is an island (called Snake Island by those at the Estuary Center) that the eagles love to sit on as they each their catch. When we pulled up, there were two eagles up among the trees. 

Seeing Eagles

Although hard to tell in the photo on the right, we were able to sit quietly in our kayaks and watch the eagles as they jostled for the best spot. As soon as we talked too loudly, though, they took off. If you want to get a great view of them, you’ll have to be quiet!

In Summary

This Canoe Trail is a loop that will eventually deposit you back out into the main marina area. If you paddle straight through from start to finish, it will take an average paddler about three hours. This is a great route for a beginner, since the water is very calm and it is very easy to launch a kayak from the marina. The wildlife in this area is very rewarding. There are some parts of the Bush River that can be pretty shallow. It’s best to do this paddle during high wind and in winds less than 10 mph, especially if you are not a strong paddler. Under ideal conditions, this is a beautiful route that often offers a great escape from others.