Monday, February 27, 2012

Walking Around Stewart Ponds


It was cloudy and mild as we started to stroll the paths around Stewart Ponds. After so much rain the ponds were full. Standing water was on the sides of the path as we headed toward the blind. Much birdsong greeted us as well as frog chirping. Fungi dotted the woodchips along the path.

Quietly peeking through the blind we saw shovelers, green-winged teal and mallards. Some were exhibiting what may have been mating behavior as they swam around. A submerged log was hosting a mix of shorebirds (yellow-legs or sandpipers?) and green-winged teals. I was wishing I had a camera with a good lens.

Overhead about 600 cackling geese announced their presence and circled for a landing. We noticed how much goose droppings were in the surrounding fields. These droppings fertilize the fields where these geese feed - an important cycle.

Color is coming into the branches of the willows. As the sun comes out the branches turn vibrant but a cloud cover turns them dull again.

Three birds perched in a nearby tree seem to be towhees, but the light is difficult at this hour and angle and so identification is tough.

A surprise sighting; a yellow flower pushing through the woodchips! Spring is coming...

A lone cormorant circles the swampy area to the west as the sun appears again. Swarms of small insects can be seen in the light. To the east we see that the hillsides are greening.

At the far pond we find a man fishing. We wonder what could be caught in this small pond. Would it be edible? A pair of coots swims along with mallards. A pair of male shovelers hunts for some dinner amongst the reeds.

On the walk back on the east side we see juncos in some low shrubs and a gang of noisy starlings high in a tree. The frogs’ chirping is much louder at this hour. The path on this west side is being taken over by the grasses. It may be time for another parks event to re-establish the trails for the public who come to enjoy nature.

Walking on these trails is time well spent. It’s calming. We don’t come to add to our bird lists. We come to be both surprised and reassured by nature.