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.
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
The places where the marsh wren and muskrat photos were taken have been bulldozed. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I ventured out to the Wakarusa Wetlands yesterday morning and took in the cold rain/sleet/snow and wind. All I could think about was how privileged I am to get to warm up. Geese were diligently incubating while their partners guarded nearby; the coyotes seemed to be everywhere looking for a meal; new arrivals like the yellow-throated warbler, Baltimore oriole, and indigo bunting stayed deep within the brush. I could make out their colors as I walked by. I didn’t stay long as I felt my presence there was just one more thing they all had to worry about when conserving energy was so very important. Click on pictures to enlarge.
I think these two might have their eyes on this space for nesting. I wouldn’t mind seeing some fuzzy little goslings. Click on pictures to enlarge.
It was incredibly bleak and cloudy yesterday, but still a wonderful time for making a lap around the lake. Sometimes, these cloudy days when no one is around are the best.
First, we met some cedar waxwings chowing down on berries.
There were numerous pelicans on the water and turkeys foraging the fields.
A heron rookery we visited last year was very active. It looks like some of the herons might already be incubating eggs.
We met an amazing Canada goose. He looks like he took a bath in white paint up to his neck. This is called “leucism,” It is not harmful, just reduced pigmentation.
We saw snow geese and Ross’s geese.
An beautiful group of deer posed for a shot before taking off for the woods.
My favorite part of the day was watching a group of snow geese (Canada geese, blue geese, greater white-fronted geese, and Ross’s geese too!) taking off from a field. So beautiful!
The last stop was a bald eagles’ nest where some brooding is going on. We visited last week and both parents were feeding. The eaglets are too small to see from the road right now. Can’t wait to watch them growing up!
After all this rain of late, the Wakarusa Wetlands are indeed wet, and muddy. Some of my favorite walks have been on these chilly spring mornings. Yesterday, it was so foggy when I got there I could not see very far in front of me, so I moved a bit more slowly to make sure I did not surprise any deer or coyotes. Really, I am sure they know I am coming long before I see them, so it is me that gets the surprise. The fog is mysterious, a little scary, and beautiful. Click on pictures to enlarge.
Once the fog cleared, the sun provided some amazing light. A mink came swimming by and a harrier swooped along the top of the tall grass.
I could not resist stopping by for a few minutes again this morning. Coots were exploring, the Eastern phoebe was guarding the gate, and the turtles were sunning.