It had been some time since I'd walked around the marsh, so Sunday morning I woke up early and walked around for about two hours, hoping to see some late youngsters and perhaps some early migrants.
First, a report on the loosestrife, which is as rampant as ever if not more widespread. Here's a view of the main marsh area from the road:
Near the road, it's all teasel and thistle--good stuff that the birds like. But the water areas of the marsh are overgrown with loosestrife. Here's the boardwalk, completely surrounded by this stupid plant:
That's Egg Hill in the distance. I walked out a little ways, but I couldn't see a damned thing in the water for all the loosestrife. Here and there, a brave little cattail struggled for breathing room. How much longer before they're all gone?
I don't know what to think about these biological controls; the measure just doesn't seem to be working. I feel frustrated, as though they should mow this stuff down and collect it all before the plants go to seed--to at least prevent new seeds from falling. I realize that there are still animals among the plants; I heard at least one Virginia rail calling. Still, this invasion has to be stopped. It's only getting worse. Here is what it looked like back in March, when the plants were just dead stalks. Even then, the stuff was everywhere, but at least it was lower and didn't completely block one's view. Like this, the boardwalk is useless.
I remember back when we first moved into the Marsh House, in 2005, before I even knew what a blog was. I was sitting in the back doorway, holding my new Peterson's Guide (which was only new to me; it was printed in the late 40s or early 50s, and I had just gotten it at a local AAUW book sale for a quarter). I looked out on the marsh and saw a bunch of red-winged blackbirds (which I probably thought were crows or grackles or something) flying around something low to the ground and yelling at it. That's when I saw my spark bird--the American bittern--my first bird I ever ID'd using a field guide. The bird was in the tiny pond right near the back fence, doing his beak-in-the-air thing, being harassed by these RWBs. There was little if any loosestrife blocking my view back then. If the marsh had looked back then like it does now, I never would've seen the bittern. I wonder if I even would've become so interested in birds had I not seen and ID'd that strange bird.
Sigh. So the loosestrife pretty much prevented me from seeing anything in the water, both from the boardwalk and from the walking path next to Long Pond. I did get a glimpse of a mother wood duck and her two almost-grown babies on the Long Pond, just before they disappeared into the loosestrife jungle. Of course I was too slow to get a photo; sorry. Here's where they were, though--and this turtle was too busy getting some early morning sun to move:
I think it's a red slider. He was craning that little neck of his, trying to warm himself.
I found this on the boardwalk railing; an American crow left it behind:It was still soggy! Looks to me like a bunch of cricket exoskeleton parts. Ick! But it is my first pellet! (And of course it made me wish I could've found the pellet from that crow that ate the starling a few days back--there would've been a beak in there!)
So--moving on. Muskrats were everywhere, nibbling on vegetation. This one was in the grass right at my feet:
Here's a new flower I've never seen--anyone know what it is?
I saw lots of butterflies: some kind of hairstreak?
I also saw this gaggle of sparrows, but I can't figure out what they are--they don't have a breast spot or streaks, and the photo quality isn't good enough to determine too many more field marks. Anyone care to guess?
On the walk back, I happened to be looking down into the grass just off the highway and saw this:
What the heck? Voodoo stuff? There's dryer sheets, a devilish looking rubber duck, some straps and cords, a crumpled up photo maybe?, a candle, a cellphone battery, and an empty (?) prescription pill bottle. WTF?