Summer on the Marsh

Spring at Nahant Marsh brought frequent rains this year and heavy thunderstorms. As summer solstice arrived, the Mississippi, fed by intense, drenching storms up river, was once again in flood and pouring river water into the marsh. As ever, this is good for some, not so good for others.

Water loving creatures have little trouble with flooding. There are more places to swim to when there’s more water, and the wood ducks do seem to enjoy being in flooded woods and meadows. The babies forage for themselves, keeping in a loose sort of group, knowing just what to do.

Their mother stays nearby, watching for danger as they forage. They are nearly half her size already and have lost most of their “duckling down”. They haven’t any wing feathers yet, so if mom does sound an alarm call, run and hide will have to do. I counted ten baby wood ducks following one of the hens. Nahant Marsh is good wood duck habitat.

Nahant Marsh provides room and board and serves as incubator for many species in addition to the wood ducks that are born here every year. Many birds call this place home, and many are raising youngsters. Because they are not too easy to spot, it may seem that there are not as many as there actually are.

The thick, humid greenery conceals a great deal of the goings-on of its residents. It is buzzing, thrumming and singing with life whether you notice it or not. More often than not, I hear far more action than I ever see in the dense woods and meadows. It is summer in the marsh, the flowers are blooming and the next generation of creatures are growing up. Don’t miss it.

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Green & Flood

Spring at Nahant Marsh, after so slow a start, has finally settled in. The green of the season has swelled in leaps and bounds, filling the trees and meadows. The anemones are blooming, along with golden alexander and the first of the spiderwort. So at last the first wave of flowers begins the prairie show.

As the green flooded in, so to has the river. Fat with melted snow and spring rains, the river has swelled slow and unstoppable. The foot trail through the flood plain forest is always the first to submerge. The creatures of Nahant Marsh seem quite unfazed and simply go about their business. As the many pools of Nahant Marsh have merged, the mother ducks have plenty of watery surfaces for their ducklings to hunt and hide. The snapping turtles also have a bigger run of the marsh, so the ducklings must be careful—and lucky.

Many birds have settled in for the season. Now that spring is truly here, there are babies or eggs to mind, meals to hunt for, predators to avoid. It is time to be mostly hidden, mostly busy.

The green is on an upward crescendo as light has flooded back into Nahant Marsh. It is not easy to see the creatures hidden there, nor are there any footprints in the snow to give them away. They are there even so, the water, woods and meadows are full of life. As ever, they do not care to be noticed by you. In fact, I suspect they prefer it. Keep looking anyway.

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