Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Urban Swamp Discovery

Great Egret- Photo by Snapshotmum

A short distance to the west of our home, a new housing development and shopping mall have been built over the past few years. The grading for new roads has enlarged a wetland and the backed up creek has created an urban swamp. The swamp is bordered by rows of "identi-homes" or Monopoly houses as we call them, two schools, a nursing home and a Walmart across the main road. I have considered this area to be an eyesore and try to avoid it (and Walmart) as much as possible.

I was looking at the local Field Naturalists' web site and reading about recent bird sightings in the region. One member gave a glowing report of the birds he had seen at this swamp, including a reported "Albino Great Blue Heron".

Urban Swamp

Yesterday, the front page of our city newspaper carried a story entitled, "Great Egrets Pay Rare Visit to Region." Over the weekend, four of these large birds were seen in local ponds and rivers. And presumably, at least one of them visited the local swamp as well. I have met some local photographers (in a virtual sense) on Flickr over the past year. Snapshotmum spent a couple of hours photographing the four Great Egrets and has some beautiful pictures of them on her site. She kindly allowed me to use one in this post. I was doing community visits today in the area where the Egrets had been seen and looked at every pond and creek that I passed. I ended up at the swamp near my home.

Green Heron (by me)

Looking over the water, I saw the usual Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, Starlings, Gulls and...what was that in my binoculars? A Green Heron, four in total, six GB Herons, a Belted Kingfisher, a Semipalmated Sandpiper and a tree full of Bank Swallows. I had to get back to work, but knew this was a place to revisit, especially during fall migration. The swamp was teeming with life. I didn't see the Great Egrets, but that is OK. Maybe they will return next year.

This urban eyesore has become a wild life oasis. I wonder how long it will take for the city to planners to alter it again?


  1. Anonymous9:51 pm GMT-4

    Flickr is such an amazing place to meet people! I am so glad that you were able to connect with the Great Egret and share wonderful movements with everyone!

  2. I love those terms Ruth... "identi-homes" and "Monopoly houses" as that is exactly what they look like...lol. Glad the urban swamp is being enjoyed and hope it stays there.

  3. I know, I know...the building and construction around here is causing havoc - the birds can't settle.

    I've been on the trail of an egret, also. Two weeks ago, I saw one near the grocery store pond, along with a belted kingfisher. Haven't seen them since.

    Looks like you found a great place to visit!

  4. Oh Ruth, I love that swampy area! I hope the "powers that be" are smart enough to figure out it shouldn't be messed with.
    That was a great picture of the green heron...I still haven't seen one.

  5. Anonymous6:01 pm GMT-4

    Nature is so resilient. Sometimes, I'm not sure we deserve the beauty she dishes up, despite our abuse.

  6. Monarch- I know the Great Egret is common in many places, but it is exciting to know that unusual sightings are occurring in this area.

    Jayne- Come into any city from the air, and these suburban eyesores stand out anywhere where land is at a premium.

    Mary- The Belted Kingfisher here is driving me crazy. He makes a noisy racket as he dives for a fish, but is sooo fast, I cannot get a picture. I saw him at least 10 times in my binoculars.

    RuthieJ- I dragged my husband up to see the Green Heron tonight and we were not disappointed. And there were 10 GBHs in the swamp this evening. They had better not fill in this area.

    Jennifer- Most people seem oblivious to the beauty there. They treat the swamp like a dump. I haven't met another person there yet, but there is a lot of garbage in the water.


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