Hooded Mergansers

Since the arrival of the first of the season, lone male merg back at the end of October, their numbers have steadily increased. Over the past few weeks the congregation in our Wetlands has ranged from the twenties and thirties, into the forties. I counted 41 mergansers on 5 December. They have been very busy pair bonding and feeding. They show a preference for feeding under and around the Main Wetlands Overlook where many golden shiners have concentrated. But, as mentioned in a previous post, theRead more


Typically, we have one great blue heron in our wetlands. Recently a second has shown up. Yesterday, I saw three gbh’s. Today (11/28), there were four. do all these herons want? Fish, tadpoles, crawfish, and whatever else they can catch that’ll fit down their long throats. The fish were packed in tight up against the shoreline of the wetlands at the foot of the Main Wetlands Overlook. It has been very busy lately, people wise, and this area has been extremelyRead more

A Fishing Expedition

At the lower terminus of the Boardwalk in Explore the Wild I noticed a small snake (perhaps 18 inches at best) coiled in the smartweed that grows there. The snake’s head stuck out of the water, ready to pounce, its tongue flashing out to smell the air. There were also many minnows splashing about the shallow water. Some of the fish were in large groups feeding, a feeding frenzy. Others were in small groups swimming in and out of theRead more

Spring Too

Spring progresses, interupted occassionally by sleet, snow and freezing rain, but still progresses. In between the bouts of the above mentioned weather I’ve photographed proof that spring is here and that it can’t be reversed. And finally, not necessarily a sign of spring but just a nice portrait of Red Wolf 1414 as he surveys his limited domain. Spring forth!    Read more

While looking down at the water

I never pass the wetlands without giving a look into the water to see what’s about. There’s always something to see, some expected, like basking turtles, others are quite unexpected. Here’s a handfull of sights from Thursday (5/9). The early season dragonflies emerged late this year. Common Baskettails typically become apparent in March. I didn’t seem them until April this year. They’re still flying. Baskettails belong to a family of dragonflies most of whom, if not all, have green eyesRead more

The Ice Cometh and the Ice Goeth

The first few days of the year brought with them the first ice over of the Wetlands. The ice will soon be history, all gone. I, or we, know that the ice will be gone within a day or two since the TV, internet, and radio tells us these things ahead of time. But for some of the creatures that live in and depend on the Wetlands for food, ice is not a good thing and it can’t be predictedRead more

Herding Shiners

Back in October I expressed some concern for our local fish eating birds’ ability to see their prey due to the turbidity of the water in our Wetlands caused by the Red Swamp Crayfish. I specifically mentioned our winter resident Hooded Mergansers who prey upon the Golden Shiners that live in the Wetlands. After observing the twelve or so Hooded Mergansers that have been feeding in the Wetlands for the past month, I think it’s the fish who need beRead more

A Harrier, an Owl, and a Big Fish

Hooded Merganser numbers in the Wetlands have fluctuated between 4 and 11 birds. The males can sometimes be seen bobbing their heads, rearing up in the water and, with their bills pointed skyward, emitting a low-pitched snore-like staccato. They’re vying for the attention of the females. It often seems that all of the males are perusing one female, who, by the way, appears little impressed with all of their strutting and showing off. Cooper’s Hawks and, since the second weekRead more

Fish in the Wetlands

I’m sometimes asked by Museum Guests what type of fish, if any, are in the Wetlands. The stock answer is “As far I can tell there are Gambusia (Mosquito Fish) and some kind of shiner down there, I plan to find out for sure this winter.” A floating dead fish caught my attention on October 18, just off the Wetlands Overlook. It was a Golden Shiner of approximately 6 inches in length. The largest fish previously seen by this observerRead more