It has been a busy few days at the Wakarusa Wetlands. The wet, cool weather has been especially good for early morning walks. Shorebirds are arriving in abundance and year-round residents are busy staking out territory, courting, and gathering nest materials. Click on pictures to enlarge.
It was a morning of coyotes and Cooper’s hawks. I took a walk through the Wakarusa Wetlands and it was relatively quiet until I ran into this beautiful coyote on my way back to the car. When I got home, I noticed the quiet immediately as I got out of the car, and the fact that no robins there to greet me looking for raisins. Sure enough, there was our neighborhood Cooper’s hawk sitting on the ground directly behind the brush pile (designed to give the birds some cover). Click on pictures to enlarge.
The area I used to visit three or four times a week at the Wakarusa Wetlands is open again. While I did not venture north to areas most affected by the construction, I was overjoyed to go back in to my usual spots. The mitigation areas looked very good from what I could see. The newer Maple Marsh, Ibis Swale, Duck Lake, and Shorebird Shallows were all busy with geese, grebes, gulls, and assorted ducks (many mallards, Northern shovelers, and teal). Killdeer were all along the edges. I did not get a lot of pictures this morning, but I saw a beaver, mink, and muskrat from a distance as well as a big group of deer. I am trying to stay positive, but do worry about how all of the proposed development along 31st is going to affect this area. It looks like there is one path that goes under the highway where Louisiana Street was. I hope that once the highway is finished and heavily traveled that animals use that. I could not see from where I was how that all works, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. An updated map can be found, here: http://www.bakeru.edu/images/pdf/About/Wetlands/Wetlands_Area_Mapweb.pdf
Robins are kind of mystery. Sometimes they migrate and sometimes they do not. In my winter observations here in Lawrence, I will sometimes not see any in town, but see large groups out at the lake. They are kind of nomadic in the winter. They do not eat birdseed, but go where the winter berries are, and according to my bird books, stay until the berries are gone. My lone robin friend was outside for raisins about every day last week. I worried about him when the temperature dropped and took raisins out to him every time he appeared at the window. Yes! He knows to hang out on the feeder pole on the patio to get my attention. He even comes up by the car when I pull in the driveway or open the garage. I totally believe we communicate on some level. I should say, I know we communicate. The first day of the extreme cold, he was still coming, but did not seem to be doing too well. He seemed lethargic and I saw him kind of stagger under the brush pile we have in the backyard (for the purpose of cover and warmth for neighborhood wildlife). The next morning, when it was three below, he was nowhere around and I was sure he did not make it. This morning, there he was, on the patio waiting for raisins. I saw him one more time a little later on a tree in the front of the house, with a lady robin. When it started snowing, they were gone and I have not seen them since. I am fascinated by where he goes that he is gone a day or two, then back again looking great. My theory is he goes with the group when getting unfrozen water is difficult. Otherwise, he is here ready for raisins and ready to take up his territory for spring.
I did not have my camera with me the last time I saw him, but this one is from one early morning a couple of weeks ago.
I am so happy to see so many deer and turkeys this fall. They seem to be everywhere the last couple of weeks. Seeing them foraging together a few times was a nice treat. Click on pictures to enlarge.
And one lone turkey vulture. They will be leaving soon. I always miss their beautiful soaring, their kettles.