Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mowing The Lawn

While that is only one of the many reasons I haven't posted in a while (including driving to Michigan, watching the Olympics, helping with a photo camp, and other activities) that isn't the reason for the title of this post.

If you have been to Great Meadows recently you will notice a couple of pieces of equipment out in the upper impoundment. I ran into Stephanie Koch, a US FWS biologist, the other day and she explained they are trying to mow the American Lotus before it completes making the seed pods, hoping to reduce their reproduction. This will hopefully provide some room for other types of vegetation to fill back in (and attract different sorts of birds).

To accomplish that they have a marsh tractor with a mowing attachment on the back. Before they start work they check on the location of the Blandings Turtles with transmitters. They are mowing as much as they can, but will stay 50 years / feet (my memory fails me) away from the cat tails. That's because the Blandings often will bury in the mud near the cat tails. The lotus they can't cut with the mower, they plan to address with weed wackers...a much slower, laborious process.
Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120814 &emdash;
Looks like fun

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120814 &emdash;
A view of the business end

It also appears that they have finished with the work dredging the channel. They are now starting on creating "refugia" - deeper pool areas to provide habitat for the Blandings turtles and other amphibians during those periods when they drain down the impoundments. It looks like it will be good size based upon the pink flags.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120814 &emdash;

You can see the excavator working on the first refugia in the background.

Also popular this month are all the egrets that are at the refuge. Look carefully, you may actually see an immature Little Blue Heron (which is white with a pale grayish, green bill with a black tip and green legs). I thought I had gotten a photo of it in the distance, but upon closer inspection when I got home, I realized that it was a Snowy Egret.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120814 &emdash;
Snowy Egret

Also seen around the refuge are Great Egrets. They can often be found fishing along the banks of the channels. I was watching and photographing this one. After catching and eating a fish, he started wandering among the lotus and catching something. If you look closely you will notice he was enjoying a dessert course of dragonflies!

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120814 &emdash;

Keep your eyes pealed near the areas of open water. You may catch an Osprey hovering overhead looking for fish.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120814 &emdash;

When I think of the hot summertime at Great Meadows, I think of the diversity of dragonflies that you can find there. You can hardly walk along the dike trails without rousting several dozen.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120814 &emdash;
A rare Common Whitetail - rare because their favorite place to perch is in the middle of the stone dust on the path. You rarely see them posing on vegetation worthy of a photograph.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120814 &emdash;
A Widow Skimmer

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120814 &emdash;
I think this is a female Twelve Spotted Skimmer, but it could be a female Common Whitetail

I promise it won't be so long to my next post. I actually have "photos in the can". I just need to process them and post.