Spring Full of Birds

WoodDuckPair1apr2017Spring at Nahant Marsh has fully arrived, bringing new, fast growing green, budding trees, and the return all of the marsh’s resident birds. Nahant Marsh is good habitat where a pair of birds can find food, rest and nesting spots. Every season new wood ducks have been born here in this nature preserve in the city. This seasons babies ought to be here any day now.

MerganserCatchesCrawfish2017mayThat the wild creatures tolerate the surrounding city so well illustrates their resiliency. Every spring they come to spend another season at  Nahant Marsh, and the wetland fills with birds. Perhaps the background hum and clang of the city really doesn’t matter when good food is on offer. The very water of the marsh is alive, and grows food for a great variety of life on up the food chain.

Warblers2017mayThe air is alive, too. Insects hatching in the warming spring fill the air with translucent shimmers of light, and there to meet them are colorful birds in their best spring plumage.

Goldfinch2017mayThe marsh is home to many more birds than I can see—they are small, quick and easily hidden in the quickly growing vegetation. Many of them are loudly singing, yet still are hard for me to spot. Even those that glow like jewels in the woods and meadows can often be heard easier than seen. The air is alive with the songs of many birds, woven with spring peepers and chorus frogs into spring concert music.

GreenHeron2017maySpring is a good time to sit still and listen to the music of all those birds. The birds will forget about you to some extent if you remain still, increasing the chance that one might happen by on business of its own. Nahant Marsh is full of birds, all of them busy with spring activities. There is food to find, mates to court, nests to build and soon hatchlings to tend to.

Already there are goslings out on the water with their attentive parents. Babies grow with blinding speed every year, and this one is sure to be no different. Spring will be gone before you know it, so be sure to take a moment to sit and listen and watch.Wood duck drake at Nahant Marsh grooms his feathers



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A Winter Barely There

Morning Fog, Ice and Geese at Nahant MarshWinter arrived late at Nahant Marsh, as autumn lingered much longer than usual. Ice and snow did eventually come. The last of the leaves fell, the last flowers succumbed to the inevitable frosts. But in spite of a few brief stretches of bitter cold, and a few snows that did not last, this winter was not that hard nor cold. A barely there winter that had more rain and fog than snow.

Trumpeter Swans Walking Across The Ice at Nahant MarshThe few bitter cold days did make some ice for the milder days to eat away, but the warmer days outnumbered the cold ones, and each snow event seemed to bring less accumulation than the one before. The last one was a light dusting that did not last the day.

Eagle Over Nahant MarshAll the winter birds arrived for the winter that was barely there. Although bald eagles can now be seen year round—once not so long ago, they were seen here only in winter—more come to stay the winter. The northern eagles follow iced-up rivers to reach open water and can be seen in great numbers during tough winters. The open river allowed them to spread out this year, but several have been frequenting Nahant.

Mink hunting at Nahant MarshAll the marsh’s winter residents are there, as every year. Without snow to write their footprints in however, the marsh may seem quite empty. It is always surprising to me just how busy the winter marsh is, as proven by the many tracks marking every snowfall. They do a good job of not being seen, snow or not. This year there has been little snow to read about their comings and goings, yet the marsh creatures are there nonetheless.

Mallard Pair Takes Flight at Nahant MarshThe mallards have spent even the coldest, harshest winters at Nahant Marsh, so seeing them by the hundreds was not unexpected. Record breaking warm temperatures in February has seemed to jump start the migration though, and in a single day I spotted common and hooded mergansers, ruddy ducks, buffleheads, scaup, ringnecks, goldeneyes, gadwalls, wigeons and green winged teals in addition to the mallards, geese and gulls.

The sandhill cranes have returned as well. Winter may not yet be done, and more ice and snow may be waiting to nip any buds lured into showing early green. But the light is returning and spring is just around the corner—even if more winter comes, it still will have been barely a winter at all.

Buffleheads at Nahant Marsh

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