Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dog Days of Summer, Van Buren County Style

The rain the other morning left this field of asparagus plants looking like a family reunion for Cousin It and his relatives.

Shine, the Whippetish girl, and I spent a pleasant hour wandering the trails at Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery today.

The birds were definitely in late summer mode, meaning they were pretty quiet, but there were still interesting things to see. A couple dozen Cedar Waxwings were pretending to be swallows, zipping around over the ponds flycatching. Actual swallow numbers were sparse, with only Tree Swallow and Barn Swallow represented. I counted at least 5 Pied-billed Grebes with striped faces, meaning they were young of the year. I saw at least three Belted Kingfishers, a Great Blue Heron, a Green Heron, and two Double-crested Cormorants out on the big pond. Waterfowl were represented by one Canada Goose, one Trumpeter Swan, and one Wood Duck. Towhees, Catbirds, Cardinals, Song Sparrows, Common Yellowthroat and Yellow Warbler were skulking in the willows.

Lots of turtles were around. A Painted Turtle was walking one of the trails with us. I spotted a few other Painted and an enormous Blanding's Turtle, but they were all pretty skittish and hard to photograph. I did get this picture of an absolutely huge softshell turtle. I think it was the first one I have seen at the hatchery. You can get an idea of size by comparing to the adult Painted Turtle on the log in front of the softshell.

And another shot.

I will be resuming regular walks at the Hatchery next week. If you'd like to join me, meet at the WLFH parking lot at 9AM on next Wednesday. Restrooms on site should be available. We'll walk the trails and meet for refreshments at That Coffee Place in Paw Paw afterward, if anyone is interested. Note the day change. I have another commitment on Mondays now that makes it necessary to make this switch. Hope to see you there!

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