Worth The Effort and A Great Marsh Migration Outing
The relentless wind that has been pounding us from the south has brought outdoor temperatures up, but has caused some problems at Sweet Marsh, at least for some of us. Many people do not realize that many of the cattails at Sweet Marsh are not anchored, but are in fact floating. When we have very strong winds like we have had the past few days, it is very possible for the masses of cattail vegetation to move around. Often such movements cause no problems. Yesterday was a different situation. Three of us who were paddling actually had our path blown shut by a mass of cattails about the size of a typical back yard. Knowing it is important to have that path through the cattails open, I asked my buddy to pull the floating bog out with his boat. Thankfully, he was able to move some of it. I went out today with my flat bottom boat to assure the opening was still usable. Before I could even get to the vegetation plug from yesterday, I ran into a large mass of cattails blocking the only path to the larger water from the boat ramp. After almost two hours of work I was able to push the plants out of the way. It was tough for my small motor, but we got the job done.
Once I was in the open water I was treated to a seldom seen bird. My motor scared the bird into flight, but I still shot a couple of pictures of it. Fighting the cattails was a worthwhile effort!
Horned Grebe in Flight:
A lone juvenile bald eagle flew over to check me out. In no time it was gone.
Juvenile Bald Eagle in Flight:
My boat must have blended in well since I had two sandhill cranes fly nearly over me in complete silence.
Sandhill Crane in Flight:
On the south end of Sweet Marsh I saw more than a dozen painted turtles on one log near a small group of blue-winged teal.
Painted Turtles on Log:
This afternoon I joined the staff of Crawdaddy Outdoors for a Sunday afternoon “Marsh Migrations” paddling adventure. This really became an adventure since the wind did not calm down until we were returning to the boat dock. All participants accomplished a difficult (at times) paddle trip around Marten’s Lake of Sweet Marsh.
We never know what wildlife we will see when paddling around and through the cattails. Sometimes the normal species are observed and other times we are treated to something unexpected. Today we had a couple of those moments of unexpected wildlife observations. Unfortunately, because of the size of our group, we did not all see the same things. Folks paddling with me saw a rare half a minute or so when a black-crowned night-heron stood still on cattails! Until today, I had not photographed a black-crowned night-heron that was not on the fly or standing in a natural environment. To say this was a special experience for me would be an understatement.
Note: According to “All About Birds” from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, black-crowned night-herons are the most widely distributed of the heron species. Their range extends from the upper Midwest to the southern tip of South America. Apparently a wide distribution does not necessarily mean there are many of them to see.
Not long after some of the couple/several hundred American white pelicans flew over. It is one thing to see pelicans at a distance. It is entirely different when you witness pelicans just above you as they fly from one area of Sweet Marsh to another.
American White Pelican:
Due to the wind-blown waves and water, I shot only a few group pictures today.