While the refuge escaped without any severe damage, Irene's fingerprints could be seen across the refuge in significant and subtle ways. Significant damage included several downed trees. Most were not in critical areas, except for the one that took down the power lines to the maintenance shed. Most of the paths were already cleared of leaves and small branches. More subtle impacts included the numbers of plants bent over along the impoundments, the broken branches suspended high in the tree canopy, the beat down cat tails on the cross dike trail. The most subtle, but welcome impact was the number of Tick Trefoil seeds that were blown away...of course, we worry about where they were blown and whether next year will be a bumper crop.
The other significant impact was the Concord River. It had swollen, the banks flooding the woods to levels we had not seen since late spring.
An example of plants bent over by the wind
Part of the trail waiting for the power company to cut down the tree leaning on the line
Replacing the pole and transformer to the maintenance shed
The fall bird walk was fun. Like us humans the birds were quite active making up for their forced downtime during the storm.
There was a wide range of ages and skill levels. Don't let the small size fool you. That little girl was a very observant birder.
If look closely you see subtle clues that autumn is approaching
Tom Eagle, Deputy Wildlife Refuge Manager stopped by to say hello to the bird walk. He was there for a meeting, but kindly explained the challenges of managing conflicting priorities at the refuge. He bravely took some questions too!
Another casualty of the hurricane were the lotus plants. There are now a lot fewer blooming lotus plants left.
One of the last blooms
Love the way young seed pods look like eyes looking at you
Mature seed pod - All that's left is some more drying out and then falling during the late autumn / winter to finish the cycle
I wondered how the dragonflies weathered the storm. There appeared to be a lot fewer active, but there were still quite a few active.
Like mid-spring the flood waters forced many of the animals to areas we don't normally see them. I don't know if this fox was forced from his normal territory, or whether he was just hunting the the mice and voles that had been flooded out to dry land. I saw two foxes, in different places. I have assumed there were some around, but these are the first ones I've seen this year.
Here are a few more random photos for your viewing pleasure.