The Last Hot Days

Pair of cranes at Nahant Marsh watch a family of otters go byThe last hot days are passing. Already at Nahant Marsh the browns and golds of pending autumn are showing through in a few places where the green has worn thin. The intense greens of summer can never last of course. The light withdraws a little bit daily—equinox will be here soon. The brilliant arc of summer bloom color has arrived into the late season flowers.

Jewelweed, Blue Lobelia and Partridge Pea at Nahant MarshSummer at the marsh has been colorful and productive. Vividly brilliant flowers filled the meadows, changing as the season progressed. A new generation of birds, insects and other marsh residents were born in the sanctuary offered here. A pair of sandhill cranes have been frequently seen, sometimes lounging and foraging out in plain view for quite a long time.

Three otters in a foggy beaver pond I have been lucky enough to see otters more frequently this summer, too. The entire otter family, it seems, has been out enjoying Nahant Marsh from time to time. Otter sightings are unpredictable. When I do see them it seems that they are going somewhere. They always seem to be taking the playful, rolling about, in their own sweet time way to get there though.

Many blooms have become many seeds in these last hot days of summer, and the insects and spiders have waxed fat—the ones that haven’t themselves been eaten anyway. There are many more fine days before the blooms and insects go still. Take a moment to enjoy it, and keep an eye out for the otters and cranes.

Nahant Marsh praire full of biennial bee blossom, also known as gaura

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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

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