April Snow

No surprise in Kansas. Our weather at best is unpredictable. The biggest snow storm I remember from childhood was late April. School was closed for a week! This morning, I rushed to get out to the wetlands because I haven’t been out there this winter when it was snowing. I was sure I was going to miss a snowy wetlands this year, so thank you, universe!

blackbirds in the snow
snow
Canada goose and muskrat den in snow
Northern shoveler and teel in snow
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New Arrivals

It was a terrific morning for walking in the wetlands. The sunrise was spectacular, and I loved watching the coots eagerly flying across the path and diving into the open water.

Sunrise
American coot in flight

I had it mostly to myself and got to see my first of the spring little green herons and an American bittern. The bittern pic is not great, but it’s so good to see them again. There have been so many times I have been standing right next to one and didn’t realize it until they flew away. Such good camouflage!

Little green herons in tree
American bittern

A great blue heron made some geese very unhappy by standing on their muskrat lodge, but eventually left them to it. I see geese nesting on top of the lodges fairly often. That seems like prime real estate! I’m hoping I will get to see some goslings soon!

Heron standing on muskrat lodge
Geese on muskrat lodge

I’m still stalking the same area looking for river otters. I didn’t have any luck today, but I did get to see a super cute muskrat having breakfast.

Muskrat eating
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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 Reopens

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

Deer

© Chris Taylor

Canada geese

© Chris Taylor

Killdeer in flight

© Chris Taylor

Red-winged blackbird

© Chris Taylor

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Winter is not quite done with us

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.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

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Wetlands Solidarity March

There will be a wetlands solidarity march on the University of Kansas campus Monday, April 14 at 11:15 AM. For more info, visit the Facebook page and wetlands history.

Stop this.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

Save this.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

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Sometimes, cloudy days are the best

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.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

There were numerous pelicans on the water and turkeys foraging the fields.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

A heron rookery we visited last year was very active. It looks like some of the herons might already be incubating eggs.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

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.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

We saw snow geese and Ross’s geese.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

An beautiful group of deer posed for a shot before taking off for the woods.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

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!

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

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!

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

 

 

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