Wildlife in the Wet

Posted: October 27th, 2009 under photography, Wildlife.
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After the additional three inches of rain yesterday, the saturated ground is leaking water down every slope, making the grassland look like a marsh, or at least the margins of a marsh.

dry-woods-swale178The water here is perfectly clear, and ranges from a half inch to perhaps five inches deep, draining through a gabion at the far end into a stream that eventually goes into the secondary drainage.

Bluets were all around in open water like this today, as well as last week:


I estimate an average of six mating/ovipositing pairs per square yard of water surface.

Scattered goldenrod clumps dot the grassland, and today, as last week, they’re covered with insects looking for that last bit of pollen and nectar:




Plus honeybees so busy that all my pictures of them were very blurry (a good breeze was swaying the goldenrod, too!)   I could hear the hum of insect wings and they were all too interested in the flowers to bother with a mere human and her camera lens.

Down in the creek woods, plenty of evidence that a flood had come through, depositing fresh mud here and removing chunks of creek bank there.    But the most interesting thing–and delightful to see after two very dry years, were these tiny fish hatchlings, who had found themselves a very shallow, sun-warmed, quiet backwater.


The water here, unlike the creek water, was again perfectly clear, and only about an inch or two deep; when the fish panicked, they roiled the surface (making it easy to spot them–I looked for their shadows as they themselves were almost transparent.)   The little school had somewhere between 20 and 40 of them.

Later, after I struggled through the mud and debris to the creek bank and watched the swift-flowing, somewhat murky water race by, I caught a glimpse of something moving downstream.  It was a large doe, calmly climbing the bank out of the creek…I held very still, but as she looked around, she spotted me.   We stared at each other a moment, and then she flipped her ears, flagged her tail, and bounded away into the woods.   No picture–while she was watching, I didn’t try to lift the camera.

On the way back home, I splashed through the wet grass hoping to flush the probable-snipe, but had no luck with that–or with the several fast-flying and fast-diving sparrows who flushed from the grass, zipped away, and dove back into it before I could focus the binoculars.   What I did see were innumerable bluets in the grass,  including this lovely female:


What are they doing down among the grasses over the few inches of water?

Eating gnats and mosquitoes and other tiny insects.   I watched them hunt.


  • Comment by Adrianne Middleton — October 27, 2009 @ 8:55 pm


    Lovely! I hope the water lasts long enough for the fish to breed.


  • Comment by elizabeth — October 27, 2009 @ 10:25 pm


    These fish must have come up from permanent water downstream somewhere (or their parents did and they were liveborn–though I don’t know how long it takes fish eggs to hatch and there’s been water in the creek now for almost a month. At this rate, given the way the land’s fully saturated, there’ll be water enough for these guys to grow in safe quieter water and then wiggle downstream to deeper more permanent water.

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