HONKERS:

Our spies on the upper Eastern Shore report the first flights of Canada geese rolling in on autumn northwesters. Kennedyville, Md., is an early hotspot, they say. (Check it out -- it's on the map). Best times to go for a look are dawn and dusk, when the graceful visitors from afar take wing.

No sound stirs the heartstrings quite like the first, gravelly harronks of Canadas in the fall. By November, the sky should be black with them.

RIVER RATS:

Fans of the Patuxent, Maryland's longest intrastate river, will head to Solomons Island next weekend for Patuxent River Appreciation Days. Oysters, clams and crabs should be plentiful, plus educational, environmental and cultural exhibits at Calvert Marine Museum and free boat rides on the Miss Solomons and the Gator.

For information, call 301-333-6611.

SHOWTIME:

The 21st U.S. Sailboat Show runs today and Monday at City Dock in Annapolis with the usual array of gleaming yachts in the water, plus shoreside displays. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children 12 and under.

The Sailboat Show is followed by the U.S Powerboat Show Friday, Oct. 15. For information, call 301-268-8828.

ON THE RUN:

The Sri Chinmoy marathon team is sponsoring a 13-mile race around the Reflecting Pool Saturday, starting at 8 a.m. at the base of the Lincoln Memorial. Entry fee is $5; call 363-4797.

NIGHTLINES:

Several prospective rockfishermen called last week, deeply concerned about a new ban on night fishing for rock.

Indeed, the Maryland rockfishing season, which reopened Friday after a 5 1/2-year closure, includes a ban on rockfishing or having rockfish aboard your boat between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Officials said enforcement of the two-fish-a-day limit and 18-inch minimum size would be impossible in the dark of night.

SAVAGE THUNDER:

Whitewater enthusiasts are enjoying the first recreational water releases in four years on Western Maryland's Savage River this weekend.

Mac Thornton of the Savage River Defense Fund said the only releases from the Savage Reservoir in recent years have been for racing on the world-class course there.

But today and Monday, he said, water will be released at 800 to 1,000 cubic feet per second for recreational boaters to enjoy from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Two rafting companies, Precision (301-746-5290) and Upper Yough (301-746-5808) are offering back-to-back raft runs on the six-mile stretch for $90 per person.

BUGS:

While boating on the Bay last weekend, we heard a distressed sailor calling for help over the VHF radio.

"Maggotty River Marine Police, Maggotty River Marine Police," he called, then gave the name of his boat and where he was stuck.

He called several times before a grumpy voice finally responded. "That's Magothy River, buddy. Magothy!"

"Yeah, right," said the sailor in distress, "Maggotty River Police. Hey, I need help."

From the sound of it, he eventually got it, but he never did manage to say "Magothy" right. Some people!

WHAZZAT?

Young Josh Harrison of Salisbury, Md., hooked a weird-looking creature while fishing in Tangier Sound during the Crisfield Chamber of Commerce tournament recently. After considerable research, tourney organizers decided it was a 7 1/2-pound smooth puffer, whose range is listed as Massachusetts to Brazil, but well out to sea off the Continental Shelf.

How the critter found its way into the Bay remains a mystery, but there are no road signs out there; maybe it just lost its way.