Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Sightings at the Swamp

A muskrat enjoys fresh green shoots

I used to view swamps as stagnant, dead places except for creatures such as snakes and biting insects. I now know they support a great diversity of wildlife and as wetlands, provide important resting places for migratory birds. I have visited our local swamp a few times this spring, twice in the evening and once after dark from the car. It was the noisiest at night with a symphony of frog song as well as a surprising amount of goose and duck accompanyment.

Canada Goose and Male Northern Shoveler

Migrating waterfowl may just rest for a few hours or a day. I have seen Northern Shovelers, Wood ducks, Teal ducks, Buffleheads, Gadwalls and migrating Canada Geese. I largely ignore Canada Geese, but noticed one sporting a bright orange neck band with four numbers on it. I can find little information about neck banding but read that the colour and numbers on the collar are significant. We have Canada Geese in the city all year but this one was obviously a migrant.

Banded Canada Goose

Last evening I watched bright blue Tree Swallows swooping over the water. A Kingfisher flew noisily from perch to perch and a single Great Blue Heron moved from one end of the swamp to the other. Many Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles were also present.

Esther Garvi is a lovely young Swedish woman who has lived in Niger since the age of six. She works as a volunteer for the Eden Foundation which endeavours to help people in this very poor nation live a sustainable life. She blogs about her work, the people of Niger, her horses and Rhodesian Ridgeback dog, Sheba. She recently posted this picture of birds who share the drinking water put out for her animals. I found it interesting to see a dove and grackle that looked very similar to our North American birds.

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Our Common Grackles have no water shortages to deal with. They perched on logs and sipped swamp water at the end of the day. Sometimes it appeared that they were just admiring their reflections.

A stagnant, dead place?... I now know better. Change happens around us every day in every corner of our world whether we take notice or not.

Follow this link for more My World posts from around the globe.

23 comments:

  1. Stunning photos and that muskrat is the cutest little thing! I keep working on my Shovelers . . but I just can't get close enough to them for up close shots! Bravo job on your shots!

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  2. Interesting photos.The reflection of the Grackle is neat.It would be interesting to find out what the band on the goose is all about.
    Blessings,Ruth

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  3. Interesting observation. Nature does mirror how we are living. I like your pics. Especially the muskrat. I've only seen one a couple of times here. It's still cold, yesterday around freezing, today a little warmer, but not warm enough yet!

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  4. My comment lost lost...Lovely series to remind people that there are wonders of nature to see everywhere..

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  5. It's amazing how much beauty and wildlife one can find in a swamp, or in a desert. The earth is an amazing place.
    Beautiful photos. The grackle reflection shot is great.

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  6. Great photos. You are so right about everything. And Esther has a great blog.

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  7. Swampy areas are full of noises. They do provide interesting creatures. As a kid, I would spend hours upon hours in our neighbor's creek catching frogs, spiders, dragonflies...etc. Now that I'm older and I think about the snakes that are in there, I don't venture far into them. Thanks to the dog, I have already encountered my first snake this year. It was small, but it still frightened me.

    I love the reflection of the Grackle...an adorable picture.

    It will be interesting to see what you bring us to the blog from the bog.

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  8. Mexico Mom6:42 pm GMT-4

    Can't ever remember seeing a muskrat so close to civilization. Perhaps since we left Canada, civilization has moved closer to the muskrats. Even here in San Pedro, Coahuila, Mexico more "wild life" is found closer to the expanding city.
    Problems like this are worldwide.

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  9. what a wonderful post. the photos are terrific too.

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  10. I love Esther's blog and her photos! And yours are great! Love the muskrat! Great post! it's a reminder that beauty can be found in the most amazing places if you take the time to look! Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Swamps are so very much alive. Love that muskrat shot. It's so fun to watch the world, and the swallows. Great post and captures.

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  12. A swamp is a great mystery to me - have yet to visit one! The muskrat looks almost like a porcupine. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. I wonder if a band that big is common for the geese? Seems a tad... big? So much life in unexpected places. :c)

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  14. fascinating...enjoyed your swamp post and look forward to more reports about it. the birds drinking at esther's water dishes do indeed look like a dove and grackle and the smaller ones perhaps a sort of finch?
    liked the grackle reflection shot :)

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  15. I love this post. A journey of discovery. The best kind as well. Discovering the beauty and versitility of an area thought to be a wasteland (or water). Beautiful wildlife photography as well.

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  16. I love these photos, especially the one of the Can. goose and shoveler. They almost look like they're courting. Maybe she's saying, "I DO like you, it's just that your bill is so...so BIG!"

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  17. Hi Ruth.....the swamp seems to be abundant in wildlife....it looks like a beautiful place to visit....

    I love the little muskrats.....I have never seen one before......

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  18. Thanks for the link to esthergarvi.com. As always, you open my eyes to the world around. Thanks too for your confidence about my book-writing potential--that is my someday wish!

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  19. Wondering how close you were to the muskrat?

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  20. It's nice to see water without ice in it, don't you think?
    That muskrat picture is really neat.

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  21. Thanks for all the comments. This swamp is right between Walmart, a nursing home, two schools and a large subdivision. The muskrat was right along the sidewalk, just a few feet away from me. It is too mucky to walk around the swamp (I have tried) and the shyer birds are in the inaccessible areas.

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  22. A wonderful nature post. Swamps like all distinctive geogrphical areas, forests, prairies,deserts etc. create s specialised habitat for flora and fauna and are deserving, because of this alone, of special interest.

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  23. Aw, that was lovely! First of all, beavers (and otters!) are just too cute! And squirrels - your world is full of those too! I'll try to post pictures of the herons as soon as posisble. Do you know how big the doves are? We have two different kinds here, one is sweet and petite (the one sunbathing next to the grackle) and one which is almost as big as the domestic pigeon and has big red eyes. Let me see if I get a good picture of it!

    Greetings from West Africa!

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