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.
Every visit to the Wakarusa Wetlands brought with it a gasp of surprise, a moment of total joy, and a peaceful sigh. On this day, I clearly remember watching a group of Kingbirds chasing a Cooper’s hawk. The Cooper’s was carrying a Kingbird, his little lifeless leg hanging from a talon. I remember being disappointed that I could not focus fast enough to record this, but I also remember feeling empathy for both the Kingbirds chasing the hawk who had killed one of their family and the hawk desperately trying to get away with his food. I am often astonished by the life and death struggles that go on right outside we humans’ doors that so many of us never notice. I also remember this frog and his expression; he seemed curious about me, but like he might be trying to decide if he should jump away. The place at the Wetlands where I took this picture no longer exists.
In honor and memory of the beautiful spaces and all beings disrupted and destroyed by the construction of the South Lawrence Trafficway, I am going back through my files and posting some of my favorite pictures. Every visit to the Wakarusa Wetlands has surprised, inspired, and moved me. August, 2009. Click on picture to enlarge.
I have not been to the Wakarusa Wetlands as much as I would like over the last few weeks, but I am not sure that is a bad thing. My walk there on Monday was on one of those five degree mornings. The sparrows were moving about in the long grass, but not coming out in the open much. I saw a few hawks and a bald eagle made a quick pass high overhead, but I did not see any mammals. No beavers. No deer. No coyotes. I have not seen a mink in months. The noise and the ever-growing gash made by this equipment are changing the land in ways we will never fully understand.
Construction closures: http://www.ksdot.org/topekametro/laneclose.asp
Wetlands Preservation Organization: https://www.facebook.com/wetlandspreservationorganization
Voices of the Wakarusa Wetlands: https://www.facebook.com/voicesofthewakarusawetlands
Occupy the Wakarusa Wetlands: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-the-Wakarusa-Wetlands/1380914642133457
One of the many beautiful hawks wintering at the Wakarusa Wetlands. I think this is a Cooper’s, but might be a Sharp-shinned; I get these guys confused sometimes. Click on pictures to enlarge.
Excellent article in the Huffington Post
“Kansas Highway Construction May Unearth Human Remains”
I spent several hours at the Wakarusa Wetlands this morning. It was cloudy and cold, so I pretty much had it to myself. I stayed on the south side, as far away as I could from any impending construction. Many species of sparrows have arrived and seeing huge flocks of goldfinches and Eastern bluebirds was magical. While these cold, windy fall days are a favorite, they are not the best for taking pictures. I was able to get a few sparrow shots and a charming beaver who I only saw because I heard his chewing. Click on pictures to enlarge.