One of the best things about cold days at the wetlands is how few humans are around. Fewer humans means I get to see more mammals, and that means coyotes. I love how they watch me from a safe distance. This one was getting ready to turn down the path I was on, saw me, thought better of it, and backed up into some brush. I stopped and waited for her thinking she would come back out and go where she needed to. Sure enough, she came out and ran off in the other direction. It is always a gift to watch them.
If you love birds, you know this is one of the most exciting (and fun!) times of the year. Residents are courting and singing, and a variety of species are stopping by on their way to their northern homes. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I have not been out as much as I would like between the extreme cold and the extreme work. I love arriving at the Wakarusa Wetlands early enough to see the blackbirds taking off. Now they are staking out territory for nesting. Looking forward to spring and everyone it brings. I am still posting one picture a day on Twitter to raise awareness of our vanishing wildlife: https://twitter.com/LillyCTaylor/status/975320248428781568
Finally, I am getting around to getting out to the Wetlands a bit more regularly. I always look forward to cold mornings when there are just a few humans on the paths. We nod at each other and sometimes share our stories of who we have been seeing. It is a kind of quiet community, and I would venture to say, one that brings some peace to many of us worrying about the current state of things. While we may not know what is coming, one thing I am sure about is my commitment to keep sharing and hoping more humans pay attention. Click on pictures to enlarge.
Not a great a picture, but I wanted to share this because I think this bald eagle couple might be contemplating a nest here. This would be a wonderful addition to the wetlands, and it looks like good real estate!
Northern Harrier trying to outmaneuver a group of sandpipers and a killdeer. They got away.
Deer and coyotes.
Bluebirds, goldfinches, and herons, oh my.
It is that time of year again when I have trouble staying at my desk and getting my work done. The number of migrants at the Wakarusa Wetlands has been astounding. And, of course, the year-round residents like the deer and bald eagles are always a pleasure to see. Click on pictures to enlarge.
The Northern Harriers are back in all of their amazingness. I love watching them skim along the top of the grass. Yesterday, it was especially fun to watch how they were using the wind to their advantage by facing into it, and hovering almost motionless just inches from the ground. This morning, I was taking pictures of the sunrise from behind the tall grass and one was hovering right in front of me. Unfortunately, since the sun was behind him, I did not get much detail of his amazing face, but it certainly was fun to watch him so closely. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I did not get to the Wakarusa Wetlands much over the summer, but now that we are heading into fall, I plan to do something about that whenever I can. I took a couple of hours off yesterday to see if what I had been hearing about great numbers of pelicans was true. While a road grater scared many of them away right after I got there, a few remained. It is great to see them in this relatively new space (part of the mitigation for the SLT). While I in no way can speak to the anger and betrayal felt by so many regarding this sacred space, I am choosing to focus on making peace with my relationship with this place that has meant so much to me. I hope it will continue to be a place of relative safety for the beings who live there, and I hope that migrants continue to find it a restful and nourishing spot in the fall and spring. It was wonderful to see thousands of gulls coming through high overhead and the blackbirds were dining on sunflower seeds. A few cormorants were hanging out in a tree, kingfishers patrolled, and grebes dived. Click on pictures to enlarge.
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.
Every visit to the Wakarusa Wetlands brought with it a gasp of surprise, a moment of total joy, and a peaceful sigh. On this day, I clearly remember watching a group of Kingbirds chasing a Cooper’s hawk. The Cooper’s was carrying a Kingbird, his little lifeless leg hanging from a talon. I remember being disappointed that I could not focus fast enough to record this, but I also remember feeling empathy for both the Kingbirds chasing the hawk who had killed one of their family and the hawk desperately trying to get away with his food. I am often astonished by the life and death struggles that go on right outside we humans’ doors that so many of us never notice. I also remember this frog and his expression; he seemed curious about me, but like he might be trying to decide if he should jump away. The place at the Wetlands where I took this picture no longer exists.