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.
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.
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.
It was a morning of coyotes and Cooper’s hawks. I took a walk through the Wakarusa Wetlands and it was relatively quiet until I ran into this beautiful coyote on my way back to the car. When I got home, I noticed the quiet immediately as I got out of the car, and the fact that no robins there to greet me looking for raisins. Sure enough, there was our neighborhood Cooper’s hawk sitting on the ground directly behind the brush pile (designed to give the birds some cover). 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
This is what progress looks like at the Wakarusa Wetlands. It is not just for the “public’s protection” that one cannot get close to many of the construction areas of the SLT (they have roads blocked way beyond the distance they need); it is important to those involved to keep images like these hidden.
On a personal note, if this all wasn’t heartbreaking enough, this is my first encounter with a Kansas badger. I knew they lived in Kansas, but I had never seen one during my wanderings before yesterday.