Find a field at sunrise on a winter morning and witness thousands of blackbirds heading out for the day.
It seems like getting out to wild spaces would be one of the safest activities in these times, but alas, I have not been out as much as I would like. Some of my favorite spaces are overrun right now with folks who feel like wild spaces are their own personal off-leash dog runs and masking up is unnecessary.
Last week, I was minding my own business taking pictures of a muskrat and this woman came into the space, wearing camo, but no mask. The hilarious part of this was she had this incredibly bright white hair that made her look like a partially hidden light bulb. I’m not sure what she thought the camo would do. Anyway, she got within about ten feet of me, so I pulled my mask up because I had to walk past her to get back to the path. She never attempted to put a mask on or even turn in a different direction. I said, “Good morning,” and she just stared.
The few times I have been to my favorite wetlands space, this has been the case. I don’t wear my mask at all times because I wear glasses and it’s just easier if I don’t have to continually adjust it to keep the glasses from fogging. I pull it up whenever I see people coming. While I have seen some people do the same, for the most part, they do not.
I hope as it gets colder, the people will thin out and I’ll have some space to safely wander. I’m sure the wildlife will appreciate the lack of off-leash dogs as well. If you’re going out, no matter where you’re going out, bring your mask, and wear it when needed. I love dogs, but unless the space is for dogs, leave your dogs at home, or at least keep them leashed (and pick up their shit!).
What a great morning at the wetlands! It was wet and chilly, so I had to myself, which is always a great time for seeing mammals like this river otter. This is only the second time I’ve been lucky enough to see them at the Wakarusa Wetlands. What a gift!
It certainly has been a while since an update. While I have not been able to get to the wetlands as often as I would like, when I have gone, it has been considerably quieter than usual. I meet others walking there who have had the same experience and wonder, “Where are all the birds? Where are all the mammals?” There are likely several reasons–the large number of off-leash dogs, noise from the SLT, more people using it for running and biking, and of course, climate change. I like going when the weather is bad so I can have it to myself for the most part. That’s how I got to see this amazing mink.
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.
It was 16 degrees when I started at the wetlands this morning, so I had it to myself. I got some amazing looks at this norther harrier who landed on the pole right in front of me. It was incredible to see him fly in. He didn’t stay long, but moved to a nearby tree, did a little shrieking, and then was joined by another harrier. They took off together. Wonderful!
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
Respect them or lose them Day 75. Great blue heron photographed July 19, 2009. Yes, that is a bullfrog.
I particularly want to highlight coyotes because they are in more danger than ever from this administration and wildlife “management” agencies propelled by junk science and blood lust who think they have a mandate for destruction. An administration hell bent on plundering natural resources and destroying more public land for animal agriculture is going to be even worse about attempting to destroy those they see as “scavengers” or “predators.” Celebrate the coyote. Click on pictures to enlarge.
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.