Skip to main content

October outing on Black Creek


Last Thursday morning I had my pickup backed up to the launch at Churchville Park, and I was jawing with another canoeist, who, like myself, was waiting for his paddling partner. My partner showed up within minutes and before I was able to slide my canoe out of the pickup, another vehicle pulled up, stopped in front of the launch and a voice from inside said something to the effect of, "You gonna unload that thing and move so the rest of us can launch?" When I looked up I saw old friend and outdoor enthusiast J.D. Barrett grinning like the Cheshire Cat. This promised to be a good day.

Black Creek has long been a favorite among the canoe and kayak crowd and a paddle along Black Creek can be aesthetically pleasing to the eye most anytime of year. Come autumn however, the waterway provides a trip that is downright picturesque and it is especially alluring during the month of October.

Beech and oak trees dominated the creek bank along this stretch.

There were maples found here and there along the bank.

Normally on his day off former Batavian Mike Keil can be found on the tennis court or golf course. But this day he opted for a canoe trip along the Black, our second such venture of the year. 

The fella on the right is avid canoeist and flyfisherman J.D. Barrett and on the left is his paddlin' partner, Hyde Hitchcock. This pair has logged an incredible amount of time on the waterways over the years. It was J.D. who first introduced me to canoeing the Black many years ago.

Wherever we looked the shoreline was mirrored perfectly in the water.

On the creek bank in the "middle of nowhere" a swing seat for two hangs from a colorful beech tree.

More after the jump (click the headline):

Mike's wry grin suggests he doesn't believe me when I tell him a pair of dragonflies landed on his shoulder. They were there a second ago...honest!

Streak-winged red skimmers

Hyde and J.D. heading upstream in their solo canoes........

and stopping for a snack beneath some hemlocks.

While a good deal of foliage had already fallen, there was still plenty of color along the creek.

Like the rest of us, this painted turtle is enjoying the balmy autumn day.

After passing below Route 19, we entered the Bergen Swamp. Here the creek began to narrow and the the foliage was all but depleted.    

We saw several herons along our route.

For the duration of our trip I was fascinated with the mirror images on the placid surface.

Quite a mix of trees along the bank including evergreens and hardwoods.

All things considered -- scenery, weather and companions -- it was an exceptional outing.


Thanks, Mardell - it was a great day by all accounts.....even got what I believe may have been my first look at a Black Creek otter, a quick glimpse at that. We were within spitting distance of the creek bank when we heard a hint of a splash alongside the canoe. I turned in time to see the dark brown fur of a mammal greater in length than a mink or muskrat, its departure much quieter than that of a beaver. And it was gone in a flash.

Oct 31, 2012, 6:44pm Permalink

Kelly, I've canoed late into the year on the Tonawanda, right behind our home, but have never canoed Black Creek later than October. Having read your comment, I got to thinking, that could long as the weather cooperates!

Nov 1, 2012, 6:25am Permalink

Mardell, here's an interesting account of the otters, one which I found a bit humorous. A bow hunting acquaintance was hunting off the Swamp Rd. in Bergen. He was in his tree stand which was located alongside a small tributary of Black Creek when he noticed something in the water coming his way. In the low light of early morning, before his brain registered exactly what it was he was looking at, he thought it was a huge snake swimming in his direction. As it turned out, the "snake" was actually five otters, one behind the other, swimming nose to tail!

Nov 1, 2012, 5:41pm Permalink
Jami Bartz

These are beautiful, Dad! I know where I can ask Jeff to take me next fall. :) Looks like it was a perfect day with perfect company! Other than the amazing splashes of color, it reminds me of our eventful day on the Tonawanda...about 20 years ago!

Nov 1, 2012, 10:32pm Permalink

Authentically Local