Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Year at the Swamp

Last August I was introduced to The Swamp by a birder on our local forum. Bounded by a mall and Walmart on one side, a nursing home, two schools, a subdivision and a road, it is an unlikely place for a bird sanctuary within the city limits. It is only a five minute drive from our home so I have dropped in many times throughout the year.

There is no single spot in the region where I have seen more birds and my list here now tops fifty species. This past week I met up with a new birding friend, Cheryl after work and showed her The Swamp. We did not have a lot of time as dusk was falling, but there was so much bird activity going on. Yesterday, The Becka wanted to look for some clothing, so I dropped her at the nearby mall and spent an enjoyable hour watching the water. It was so much less stressful than bathing suit shopping.

The water levels are much higher than last year and the wading birds have moved to different parts of the swamp. The Green Herons were easy to find last summer but I have looked in vain for them this year. I finally found one on the top branch of an old dead tree instead of on the usual logs at water level.

An Osprey hovered above the water. I did not know they could stay in one spot for so long .

I saw my first Wood Ducks here last October. This year a female has been seen frequently with her brood. Here they are lined up on a log. I hope they stay around for a while after the males have their breeding plumage again.

There are many Belted Kingfishers about and they make a mighty racket as they dive into the water for a minnow. They compete for the best perches and aggressively chase away others who venture too close.

I also saw a Great Blue Heron make a noisy fuss when a Kingfisher got too close to the Heron's fishing spot.

Other birds seen this evening included the usual suspects plus a Trumpeter Swan, a pair of Northern Flickers, a Hairy Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwings, Kingbirds, a Caspian Tern and Spotted Sandpipers. Shorebirds are moving south and other birds like male Red-winged Blackbirds have flocked together and are leaving. Fall migration is underway. And this swamp is a great resting place for migrating water birds.

The Becka finished her shopping and as I picked her up a lovely rainbow hung above the swamp. Yesterday was a day of sun and showers and the rainbow was the storm's parting gift. There is much to enjoy close to home!


  1. Ruth, yes, I know. Close to home there is plenty to see if you take time to look for it.

    "It was so much less stressful than bathing suit shopping." LOL! I understand... I found my first red-headed woodpecker next to a shopping mall :o)

    All of your photos are outstanding, Ruth. My favorite is the shot of the Great Blue stretching its wings. Fabulous!


  2. How beautiful to find this mini oasis in the middle of a busy town.......nature can often work well with little space providing us with images that cleanse and restore the soul.....
    a beautiful post, and one that gives us hope that people and nature can survive alongside each other.....

  3. Amazing, isn't it? There are many opportunities for nature watching that we miss. Too many people can't see the pond for the shopping mall.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. You are so lucky to have a spot like that near your home. Like Mary, I loved all of your pictures but most especially the Great Blue Heron stretching his wings. So beautiful.

  5. Gorgeous photos! I think these are my favourites of yours so far! Can you send me the swamp location? :-)

  6. The rainbow was a gift to end your day!

  7. Anonymous9:41 am GMT-4

    Great shots. I have a swamp in the nature preserve by my dorm. Great abundance of wildlife.

  8. Ruth,

    This is a delightful post. Your photos are awesome. You are lucky to have such a spot so close to home. Wetlands are fantastic places.

    I enjoyed my visit, as always. If you have a minute drop by my Writing Nook and meet the newest addition to our family.


  9. Lovely lovely photos, Ruth. What a find. And I thought nothing good could come from Walmart!

  10. Fantastic pictures. I love the one with the woodducks on the log. We didn't see any the night you introduce to the swamp, so you know I will be looking for them. I still get goosebumps thinking of all the "new" birds I saw that night. If isn't wasn't for you Ruth I would have never known that little gem was there. Thanks taking me there!

  11. Beautiful bird pictures! What a treat to have this great location so close to home. I got to see and take pictures of an immature night heron. Having just started really paying attention to the birds in the area, this was a real treat, but I don't know if they're common around here or not. Theres also another bird, a large one, in the area that I've spotted three times, but haven't gotten a picture of yet. I haven't a clue what he is. I've studied and studied the bird books and haven't figured it out yet. It'll help when I get a picture.

  12. What a great selection of pictures ... and all taken close to home. How good can it get?!

    Hot here today and to be hot the rest of the week. Unfortunately, we have to travel to the coast tomorrow ... where it will be even more muggy and hot with the added disadvantage of a thick layer of smog!!

  13. Anonymous9:11 pm GMT-4

    Your photos looked so much like our visit to Montezuma yesterday, especially the swamp photo. And to think you found it next to a shopping center.

  14. These photos could have been in a nature appreciation book; they have a certain quality about them that makes them so very appealing and beautiful. My favourite would be the one of the Green Heron. How wonderful is must be to have such a wonderful wildlife location so near by.

  15. Mary- There was no way I was going to help Becka find a bathing suit! You are an expert at close-to-home beauty.

    Cheryl- An older couple stopped to look at the swamp when I was there and they thought it was ugly saying, "who would ever want to live close to this!" A scary mentality! I hope it is never filled in.

    NCMW- You are right. The mall attracts far more people than the swamp.

    Beth- Thanks. You really can never predict when a bird will spread its wings. I was lucky.

    Melissa- sent.

    Jean- The rainbow was special. I see only one or two a year. I drove to a field to get a picture without wires, but it was gone very quickly.

    AC- An oxymoron for sure. I do not like Walmart and avoid it as much as possible.

    SG- Nice that you have more than pavement near your dorm. Spending time at a place like this is restorative.

    Mary- Wetlands are so important. There were many swamps where our city is now built, all part of the river watershed. Very few remain.

    KGMom- The rainbow does enhance the Walmart parking lot ;-)

    Cheryl D- I was hoping you would see the Wood Ducks. They are hard to pick out on the water in the evening. I was fortunate to see them on the log but they quickly took off as I approached.

    Julie- I have seen a few birds that I have not been able to ID. Always a challenge. Funny, there was another birder looking for a Night Heron that had been seen at the swamp. I never found it either.

    CS- Hope some ocean breezes cool your stay at the city. Have a safe trip.

    Jan- You did see what I saw!

    Ann- Thanks. I appreciate comments from a great nature photographer. I was thrilled to find the Green Heron high up in the evening sunlight. Much easier to get a picture. (I must have taken 20!)

  16. Love the photos..aren't the kingfishers loud? The first time I heard it, I had no idea what it was. During the last heavy rain and flood, a great blue heron was standing on a swing set.Nice photo of the woodies too. Last year was the first time we had a brood that stayed. Love them...Michelle..

  17. Michelle- I love your Woodies. The Kingfishers amuse me to no end. I could watch their antics for hours.

  18. I got to see an osprey hovering the other day. very cool thing indeed. I enjoyed your photos.


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