The West Shore Trail water levels are finally high enough to support fish. . .and where there’s fish, there are eagles not far behind.
There would be heron and osprey, too, except at this time of year they are long gone to the southward. Not so for the eagles, who generally stick around in the winter until the lakes, rivers, and marshlands freeze over, forcing them to find open water.
Muskrats are back, too. Their lodges serve a double duty, as home for the muskrat family, and a stable perching place for anyone looking for a fresh fish dinner.
West Shore Trail, at the northern part of the Montezuma complex, had a large population of muskrats earlier in the spring with lodges too numerous to count. However, these numbers diminished markedly as the marshes dried up under an induced drought so that by the summer there were less than 100 lodges. It’s great to see them back again!
The marsh itself is huge. From the West Shore road facing south, it stretches as far as the eye can see. When the flyway is active you can hear sandhill cranes and tundra swans in the distance, but the distance is so far away that even a 600 mm lens or a superzoom bridge camera can’t catch them.
Another stopover on the Atlantic Flyway is the nearby Knox Marcellus marsh. Right now it is hosting a flock of migrating tundra swans — tundras, I’m pretty sure, as the calls I hear are the coo-type whistle of the tundra and not the harsh honking of the trumpeter. Still too far away for any portrait shots, but just documenting their presence (and their numbers!) can make for a lovely and interesting landscape.
It would make a more interesting shot had the leaves not succumbed to our last windstorm, but the swans did not come to view the foliage. To them, the marsh is a pit stop between their breeding grounds in the Arctic and their winter homes in the Chesapeake area. They won’t be here for long, so, enjoy them while you can!