In The Very Thick Of Summer

Snapping Turtle's Eye Peers Out Of Partridge Pea in Nahant Marsh's meadowNahant Marsh is basking in the heat and light of summer. Rain has not been infrequent this year, and the air has often been heavy with humidity. The prairies are deep, green and lush. The sheer thickness of the living meadows is a marvel, and hides a multitude of creatures. Some are fairly large, like this big snapping turtle. Her bright eye was just about all that could be seen of her.

Dragonfly With Prey Insect At Nahant MarshSmaller creatures beyond count live in the thick green meadows. Meadows like miniature rainforests full of predators and prey. All of the lives of plants and animals of the marsh are woven together in an endless dance that plays out every year. Summer is thick with new life and rich with plenty of tasty morsels to eat. Dragonflies pluck their suppers from the air, hunting on glistening wings in the thick summer air .

Young Blue Heron Catches a Fish at Nahant MarshThis year’s young blue herons, out of the nest and hunting, pluck their breakfast out of the summer waters of the marsh. They have grown fast, no wonder they seem so hungry. The water of Nahant Marsh is alive—thick with snacks for the young herons to eat. It seems there is plenty for all of the marsh residents to eat. Summer is a time when staying fed and warm is about as easy as it gets.

Storm Clouds on a Summer Morning at Nahant MarshSummer storms have kept the marsh nicely watered. No drought this year, although some day there will be another. Water has kept the ponds and pools full. Clouds have come and gone in turn, mixing with light to dramatically fill the sky. Layers of mist have drifted through the air every day. Air so thick with water that on many mornings the prairies were drenched and sparkling wet. And air filled with water catches and holds the light—thick, summer light.

Summers are a beautiful time. In the thickness of summer, life is everywhere. But already the days are growing shorter, and as ever, this beautiful summer time will pass.

Sunrise Rainbow On The Edge Of The Storm at Nahant Marsh

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Where the Wood Duck Live

A flash of wing and eye is visible as a wood duck drake glides bySpring flooded Nahant Marsh with tangled, thick green vegetation as May and now June filled it with light and heat. The prairie is bright with flowers—the season has already begun its succession of blooms. This dense growth covers the lively creatures that live there. All those leaves, stems and petals obscures them from easy view.

Wood duck drake at Nahant MarshI imagine those lively creatures are comfortable with nice thick cover. The less they can be seen, the better they may like it. To look out over the intensely green marsh as summer arrives, is to wonder what may be living unseen there. As every year, wood ducks are part of the wetland community thriving in this place. Nahant Marsh is where they live.

Pair of wood duck drakes at Nahant MarshThe drakes are boldly marked, with bright spots of brilliant and iridescent color. Yet as striking as they appear, wood ducks are easy to miss. They are shy and quick to take wing. The thick green of the woods and marsh covers them well. They do not wish to be seen, nor to get too close to dangerous people. But they do live there. If I wait quietly by the water I see them fairly regularly.

Wood duck mom at Nahant Marsh says keep away from my babiesDrakes and hens and ducklings that grow with breathtaking speed, I see them all from time to time—if I am still. The hens, more subtle, are patterned in lovely browns. They have patches of iridescence hidden on their wings, and always there is a white teardrop shape encircling each eye.

Wood duck hen appears to laugh while sitting on a log at Nahant MarshThe ladies had seemed to disappear for a while, and for a time I saw mostly drakes. No doubt the hens were sitting on eggs. But now the baby wood ducks have rained down unseen from their nests, and are out on the water. It seems to take only a day or two before they are the size of their dainty parents. It does take a little longer than that, of course, but the youngsters do grow amazingly fast.

As every year, Nahant Marsh is producing more wood ducks. Wood ducks live there. They find food, shelter and a place to raise the next batch of wood ducks in relative safety. You may see them or you may not, but without a doubt, they are there, living out the season comfortably in the dense summer green at the marsh.

Morning light catches on the iridescent patches of a wood duck drake


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