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 first ice of the season on 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 predicted when it will go away. The kingfisher who needs to dive into water to catch fish, the heron, egret, mergansers, and others don’t know when the ice will melt. Should they move on, or wait it out?

The birds can afford to hang out for a few days to see what will happen, after all, they have wings and can move to bigger water if things don’t improve. They can be at Falls Lake in minutes and there are many other local ponds that are a bit deeper than our Wetlands and which may not freeze as quickly.

A frozen shiner.

The photos that you see here were taken on January 4th and show some of the birds who decided to stick it out long enough to see if the water would open up for them.

But first, some of the shiners which have been huddled up in a shallow corner of the Wetlands for nearly a month now did not fare well. However, most of them, the ones not yet eaten by the birds that you see in the photos, are still splashing around in the water and have actually kept a small bit of water open because of their thrashing about.

The Great Egret (below) is probably the same bird seen in the Wetlands on the 22nd of December (it was also seen on the 24th).

The new addition to the Wetlands, a Great Egret, rests while the ice melts.

This egret is more people tolerant than its larger relative, the Great Blue Heron, and allows for a closer approach.

A closer look at our new friend.
Kingfisher and GBH decide to stay and see what happens.
The hawk looks over its shoulder at some, unheard by me, noise coming from behind.

One of the local Red-shouldered Hawks has resumed its hunting strategy of sitting quietly in the willows watching for the slightest movement to pounce on any unsuspecting frog, tadpole, shrew, or rat.

Despite the cold, it was a good day to be outside.

By the way, it may reach sixty degrees by the end of the week! Are you going to be sitting inside reading blogs about nature, or outside experiencing some of the things those blogs speak about?

4 responses to The Ice Cometh and the Ice Goeth

  1. Erin Brown says:

    He was hanging out all day on the 8th. It was very exciting for me.

    • Greg Dodge says:

      Good for you, Erin Brown!
      Glad you got to check it out.

  2. sherry says:

    FYI: Jan 7, 7:30 AM: our new friend was hanging out on the path by [the secondary Wetlands Overlook].

    • Greg Dodge says:

      Yes, I think that it will stay with us for a while. I saw the Great Blue Heron chase the egret out of the Wetlands a few times yesterday but the bird is persistent and keeps coming back. As long as the water doesn’t freeze over for too long of a period I think our new friend will be here, but nothing is for certain.

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