Wetlands Updates

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!

Bald eagles

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier trying to outmaneuver a group of sandpipers and a killdeer. They got away.

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Deer and coyotes.

Deer

© Chris Taylor

Coyote

© Chris Taylor

Coyote

© Chris Taylor

Bluebirds, goldfinches, and herons, oh my.

Eastern bluebird

© Chris Taylor

Eastern bluebird

© Chris Taylor

American goldfinch

© Chris Taylor

American goldfinch

© Chris Taylor

Great blue heron

© Chris Taylor

Great blue heron

© Chris Taylor

Wakarusa Wetlands

© Chris Taylor

 

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Wetlands Residents

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.

Pelican and ducks

© Chris Taylor

Great blue heron

© Chris Taylor

Bald eagle

© Chris Taylor

Male deer

© Chris Taylor

Running deer

© Chris Taylor

 

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Northern Harriers

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.

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

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Meanwhile, at the Wetlands

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.

Sunrise Wetlands

© Chris Taylor

Red-winged blackbirds on sunflower

© Chris Taylor

Red-winged blackbirds in flight

© Chris Taylor

Cormorants

© Chris Taylor

American coot and grebe

© Chris Taylor

Belted kingfisher

© Chris Taylor

Pelicans in a line

© Chris Taylor

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Busy Wetlands

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.

Common yellow-throat warbler

© Chris Taylor

Goslings

© Chris Taylor

White-crowned sparrow

© Chris Taylor

Caspian tern

© Chris Taylor

Cormorants

© Chris Taylor

Egret and terns

© Chris Taylor

Western kingbird

© Chris Taylor

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Wakarusa Wetlands 2010

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.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

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Honoring the Wakarusa Wetlands

In honor and memory of the beautiful spaces and all beings disrupted and destroyed by the construction of the South Lawrence Trafficway, I am going back through my files and posting some of my favorite pictures. Every visit to the Wakarusa Wetlands has surprised, inspired, and moved me. August, 2009. Click on picture to enlarge.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

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Mourning the Wakarusa Wetlands

I have not been to the Wakarusa Wetlands as much as I would like over the last few weeks, but I am not sure that is a bad thing. My walk there on Monday was on one of those five degree mornings. The sparrows were moving about in the long grass, but not coming out in the open much. I saw a few hawks and a bald eagle made a quick pass high overhead, but I did not see any mammals. No beavers. No deer. No coyotes. I have not seen a mink in months. The noise and the ever-growing gash made by this equipment are changing the land in ways we will never fully understand.

Construction closures: http://www.ksdot.org/topekametro/laneclose.asp

Wetlands Preservation Organization: https://www.facebook.com/wetlandspreservationorganization

Voices of the Wakarusa Wetlands: https://www.facebook.com/voicesofthewakarusawetlands

Occupy the Wakarusa Wetlands: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-the-Wakarusa-Wetlands/1380914642133457

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor (I didn't do this, but I sure don't disagree)

© Chris Taylor (I didn’t do this, but I sure don’t disagree)

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Morning hawk

One of the many beautiful hawks wintering at the Wakarusa Wetlands. I think this is a Cooper’s, but might be a Sharp-shinned; I get these guys confused sometimes. Click on pictures to enlarge.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

Excellent article in the Huffington Post

“Kansas Highway Construction May Unearth Human Remains”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-smarsh/kansas-highway-construction_b_4164775.html

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