Volatility

May 3, 2018

Gaia in the Woods, and Some Notes on a Small Lake Recovery

Filed under: Freedom — Tags: , , , , — Russ @ 2:44 pm

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I could’ve chosen any of a number of birds for the feature pic, but let’s go with the blackpoll warbler since there was a flock of those.

 
 
I feel like I’m having a mystical experience. The last few days and especially today it really seemed like Gaia was extending warm feeling toward me. The whole place seems full of good vibes, the heat nicely balanced with a constant strong breeze. The first close contact this morning was a pair of chickadees who came and perched on branches just a few feet away. Then one flitted over and showed me where their nest was, in a thin stump. They knew I was right there and yet went right ahead as if knowing I was a friend.
 
I went walking around the lake. Both barn and rough-winged swallows cavorted and were perching near with no concern for my presence. I stopped by a small flowering tree and immediately heard a beautiful call from within. It took only a few seconds to locate a pair of orioles, again just a few yards from my head. First orioles of the year for me.
 
I kept walking. From the moment I arrived I could hear the loud toad choruses. But I never saw before what I now saw in the muddy shallows – a semi-circular gathering of toads, as if an arena audience, expanding and expending their blow sacs to make their calls. From a few feet away it was very loud. And when this bunch would call, other groups from far and wide around the lake would echo.
 
I walked all the way around the lake. Coming back around the other side was the most extraordinary yet: For the fourth time in five days there was a warbler. Before a few days ago I could probably count on one hand the number I’ve seen, they’ve always been so elusive around here. But suddenly four sightings in five days, all four kinds I had never seen before: the black-and-white, the palm, a small flock of blackpolls just yesterday, and now this was a yellow-rumped (aka myrtle) warbler, easily identifiable by its yellow rump spot. Again the bird paused nearby in a leisurely way as if to let me know it saw me as a friend. Like the way the small flock of blackpolls yesterday seemed to greet me and come closer.
 
Other birds I’ve seen just in the last few days include killdeer, a greater scaup, mallards, wood thrush, chipping and song sparrows, and the usual robins and blue jays. I’ve heard the calls of red-bellied woodpeckers and pileated woodpeckers and/or flickers but haven’t seen any of those.
 
Now for a brief report on the state of the lake’s ecosystem. Last year they drained the lake, and all summer and fall it was a meadow with a few melancholy trickles running through it. Now the lake’s refilled and we get to see what’s immediately back, what’s missing, and what’s new.
 
Looks like reptiles and amphibians were able to hunker down in the muck and brave the drought, because I’ve been seeing painted turtles, green and pickerel frogs, water snakes and a newt, plus the abundant amorous toads. On the other hand I saw zero fish. Previously there were tons of bluegills and bass, now nothing. (I did see what looked like the clearings sunfish make but saw no sunfish. Is there a natural way for those clearings to form?) There were lots of dragonflies and some water insects. As for the swallows, the rough-winged swallows previously had a colony there (they like to inhabit walls next to water), so I was glad to see them back. I never saw barn swallows there before, so that’s new. Like the killdeers – I never saw them here before, but it looks like there’s now a resident couple. Evidently the hawk nest in the big conifer over the parking lot is occupied again. I couldn’t see anything myself, but the guy who used to set up his telescope to watch them was there again.
 
As a capper, nicely bookending yesterday’s journey which began with the blackpoll warbler greeting at the outset, as I took one last look at the lake before leaving, spring peepers began sounding. It was the first time this year I’ve heard them here.
 
 
 
 
 
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