In the press release, you can find a link to the Excel file noting the species in trouble, and it is staggering. Think of the species in your part of the world that are regular visitors to your yard, the birds you see at area lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Imagine them gone. Birds we regularly see in Kansas on this list include the American white pelican, red-headed woodpecker, common nighthawk, chimney swift, rufous hummingbird, American coot, American avocet, lesser yellowlegs, Franklin’s and Ross’s gulls, common tern, little blue heron, northern harrier, belted kingfisher, orchard oriole, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, painted bunting, dickcissel, and the list goes on. The last four years did so much damage. Please support conservation in any way you can.
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.
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!
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.