Summer Lush and Green

A red milkweed beetle peeks over the leaf of a common milkweed flowering at Nahant MarshThe rising tide of green at Nahant Marsh has turned into high summer. A summer thoroughly watered by frequent thunderstorms, and as lush and as green as could possibly be desired. The prairie meadows are dense and thick with green and growing things, bright with blooms, heavy with seeds, buzzing and thrumming with life. All the usual summer residents are there.

A monarch butterfly caterpillar feeds on a common milkweed at Nahant MarshThe meadows are alive with busy insects. Many are as familiar as old friends, reliably seen every summer. Although some, like the monarch butterflies, have been in decline, at Nahant Marsh a food source and nursery is still available. The marsh’s wide variety of plants attracts many different insects, some quite strange, and all of them busily going about their summer business.

A female redwinged blackbird bringing food back to her nestOf course, all these insects make tasty meals for many of the marsh’s other residents. The abundance of a lush summer is a good time for feeding baby birds, and there are lots of nests, eggs, hatchlings, ducklings and juveniles already as big as their parents. They can be rather hard to spot in the lush abundance of a green and growing summer however. Lush vegetation provides good cover.

A pair of sandhill cranes fly out of Nahant Marsh on a summer morningThe exuberant profusion of growth can easily hide full grown sandhill cranes. The sandhills have returned to the marsh for another season. Sometimes they can be seen out in the open, at the edge where green meets water. When they disappear into the greenery they truly disappear, submerging into a thickness of green. It would no doubt be surprising to know of the creatures so near yet so unseen when visiting the marsh in summer.

Summer at Nahant MarshThe summer is full of unseen creatures, but you never know. One warm summer morning I spotted dozens of baby wood ducks out on the marsh—a big group there, still covered in down and scarcely a few days out of the shell, a slightly smaller group there, nearly half mom’s size already, yet another group over there…who knew there were so many baby wood ducks?

Yet the very next morning, packing my big lens, I couldn’t find a single one. You never know what you might find at any given time, but you are sure to see something colorful and interesting. Nahant Marsh is full of much to see and there is no better time than now. Go enjoy summer while it’s still lush and green.Green and lush summer morning at Nahant Marsh

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rising Tide of Green

White-tailed deer at Nahant Marsh's beaver pondApril at Nahant Marsh was a time of great change. April began with a few tentative wisps of delicate green rising from the recently thawed earth, and the first vanguard of returning birds. It ended with green bursting out everywhere, wrapping the marsh in a thickening green haze, and a crescendo of multiple layers of birdsong.

Returning sandhill crane peers through the willows at Nahant MarshThe fog of green, still golden and airy in April, grew denser as May moved in. April and May are the most amazing months in the marsh as it comes back to life in a rising tide of green. The reawakening green is filled with a rush of creatures who by all appearances are pleased with the new, milder season. A season of life and joy.

Red-winged blackbird bathes in a beaver pond at Nahant MarshThe pools and ponds of water at Nahant Marsh are a magnet for the creatures. The water itself is bursting with life, producing and attracting an amazing variety of living things. Many of them are not obvious, even now. The birds are pretty easy to observe if you are quiet, though. The more northern species have gone on by, but those that plan to stay are staking their claims, singing their spring songs.

Mallard Drake at Nahant MarshApril and May are the best times to see the birds, while they are loudly announcing their presence and before the rising green closes over them. Later, as spring arches into summer, they will become quieter and the fully leaved out vegetation will conceal much that lives there.

A wood duck drake on a green reflection in Nahant Marsh's beaver pondWood ducks were among the earliest arrivals, chasing the very edge of the ice, coming to Nahant before April even started. I can’t tell if those early birds moved on farther north and different wood ducks moved in, but the marsh once again is host to quite a number of wood duck pairs clearly checking out likely nesting spots. Nahant Marsh will once again host a new generation of these striking birds.

The front lawn of the Education Center, once torn up and muddy from construction work for the expansion, is also sprouting a fresh new rising tide of green. It is a beautiful, hopeful season full of promise and new beginnings. Be sure to take some time to enjoy it, don’t let it get away!

Blue-winged teal pair rests and grooms at Nahant Marsh

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment