anxwybYay for the rain!  Because it’s the rain — not the marsh managers — that is re-establishing the fish habitat at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. . .so keep it coming, Mother Nature!

_7150590Oh, the rains aren’t enough to fill up the main pool, which was drained into mud flats way back in the spring and is now an overgrown grassland.  But it’s enough to fill up the low spots in the main pool as well as to increase the water level in Seneca Flats and a couple of the smaller pools which, until this time, were too shallow to support fish.

Even with the rains, the levels aren’t deep enough to allow osprey, eagles, and other diving wildlife to swoop-and-scoop their dinner, but they are good enough for the waders, who watch, wait, and then plunge for the smaller fish.

_7160294It’s just wonderful to watch the herons, egrets, and kingfishers return!

But nonetheless, the eagles, too, are beginning to return.  Perhaps they instinctively know that the water levels will improve in the fall. . . when the MNWR managers will flood the main pool, just as they have for the past three years, to attract ducks to the submergents that have been growing all summer.

After all, the fall is only nine weeks away!

In the meantime, the eagles can find sustenance in the fish that thrive in the canal running alongside Wildlife Drive.

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Kingfisher evaluating the fish potential in the Seneca Canal. In the pouring rain!

No one from MNWR messed with the canal, and besides, the recent rains have increased its water level, too.

So, the eagles won’t have to fear breaking their necks as they swoop-and-scoop fish from these deeper waters.

Today Mother Nature was doing her best to maintain and even increase the water levels, so the shooting conditions were challenging.

Everything (and everybody) was drenched.

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They don’t look so majestic when they are wet and muddy.

But it was wonderful to see the wildlife returning in increasing numbers.  Whereas last week I saw maybe one one great blue heron, today I saw 11.

There were no less than 4 adult eagles, and one juvenile.  The eagle tree hosted 3 of them trying to dry off their feathers.

I spotted a single greater yellowlegs last week, but today there were several more.

The word is spreading fast!

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Ducks in a row? Nope, these are greater yellowlegs (I think!)

The main pool is crowded with vegetation, and when it is reflooded in the fall there won’t be much room for fish.

So the fish getting this head start in the smaller pools is important both for the fish and the fish-eaters.

There was a lot I could hear but not see on the Drive today.

Too wet to risk my gear outside of the car!

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An umbrella and a couple of bungee cords will keep your gear dry even in the pouring rain

There were bullfrogs calling and marsh wrens warning and a few song sparrows and eastern kingbirds as well. . .and, of course, the redwing blackbirds — nothing shuts them up for long.

But I certainly saw enough to make the trip worthwhile.  Thank you, Mother Nature!

A few more from today’s excursion:

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What drugs are they on? If stepping out of your car to set up a tripod disturbs the wildlife, what do they think draining the marsh and eliminating the entire fish habitat does? How do they hire people at MNWR — do they stand on street corners and ask passers-by “are you stupid?”

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