If the weather is good, I really encourage you to go to your local nature centre to check out their programmes, look at the displays, sit and watch the birds, or walk on the trails.
As I walked through the Interpretative Centre, one of the staff was asking anyone if they wanted to watch a feeding. There were lots of pre-school children yelling ‘yes’ or ‘me, me’ and running ahead of their parents and grandparents. I thought they were going to feed the ducks. Silly me. It was salamanders. There are, however, many activities at the nature centres for all ages. In the fall, both of ours have birdseed sales with good discounts for members and much better seed. Then there are pumpkin carving adventures as well as astronomy evenings.
The grasses lining the ponds of Oak Hammock Marsh are quickly changing colour. Last week they were much more green and there was a lot more water. The staff are draining the water from the wetlands as it would happen naturally during a time of drought.
Closer to the Interpretative Centre is a series of board walks talking you out into the marsh.
Along the way there are pavilions. It is here that some of the walking tours stop to listen to information. They are also good places just to sit and catch your breath in the heat.
Whenever I look at these pavilions I am reminded of the gardens of the Chinese literati (learned individual, well educated, often writers and poets) who created gardens with ponds and pavilions like these for admiring nature, to find inspiration, or to sit and write or paint.
There were definitely not as many waterfowl at the marsh today as there was last week.
This is a good view of one of the pavilions and the adjacent ponds and marshlands.
It was really hot out on the trails around the marsh. Even the ducks were paddling so fast that they were often a blur.
These two Canada Geese were paddling quite slowly along the shore. They were not in a rush!
The dabbling ducks were looking for food.
Sometimes you had to look very closely to see them up against the reeds.
The reflection of the reeds with the blue sky was quite beautiful.
One of the things that I did today was purchase a book. It is The Crossley ID Guide to Waterfowl.
My interest has always been raptors. I can easily identify them although a Cooper will sometimes confuse me with a Sharp-shinned. I do not know my ducks and I am just now getting a handle on sparrows. We have two big rivers, two large lakes, Hudson’s Bay and a host of other smaller lakes and water features in a growing number of new housing estates. These are the birds in the parks near me or in my garden. It would help for me to recognize them. It would also help the e-Bird consultant for our area because then I would not be bugging him all the tim! Wish me luck.
These are Green-winged Teals preening themselves.
There is a look out point near the end of the trail. There you could see the ducks and geese arriving. It was 16:00.
Common on the Canadian Prairies are rose hips. The roses appear in the spring while the rose hips, the fruit of the rose, is in the fall. They generally grow after the petals have bloomed and have fallen off. They are rich in nutrients including vitamin C. People collect them and make tea or rose hip syrup or jelly. It is delicious.
The Dark-eyed Juncos have even appeared at Oak Hammock Marsh. You can hardly go anywhere without seeing several.
This is a Thirteen-lined Prairie Dog. They are diurnal and are most active during the day where they can be seen looking for food and going in and out of their tunnels.
There were a couple of these sparrows that were in my garden so I know this one’s ID. It is a juvenile Harris’s Sparrow. So cute. Eventually its entire crown will be black.
As we were leaving the Canada Geese were flying in to feed on the recently harvested farmer’s fields. Here they come in a beautiful ‘V’ formation.
While I did not see very many birds, it was simply a gorgeous day to be outside. The trails are so much nicer to walk on than the concrete of the city. There is such joy just closing your eyes in the sun and listening to the geese. It is the sound of fall. I am also very grateful to the individuals who have established this beautiful nature centre and have purchased the marsh and are being good stewards. There is absolutely no hunting permitted on any of the land – and the area is huge. Bravo! These ducks will not be fattened up, tagged, and then wind up in a count as to whether they were shot in state or out of state like some nature centres do. Rosalie Edge, the individual who purchased Hawk Mountain and lobbied against killing raptors, has certainly rubbed off on me!
All of the other nests were doing just fine when I checked on them. Meals had arrived at both 367 Collins Street and the Port Lincoln Barge. In fact, Dad brought in a really nice fish that still had its head. It was flapping and I am so glad that Mum out it out of its misery before it went flying over the edge or knocked one of the chicks off. Hatch watch will begin for the falcons at Charles Sturt University in a couple of days and the big fall e-Bird count is 9 October. More details to follow in a couple of days.
Take care all. I hope you had a wonderful day, too.