While much of the city is currently working themselves into a froth about a few dozen super scary people wearing anonymous masks that may break in a few windows of generic megacorporations, I took the opportunity to head off to the Washington Park Arboretum and check out the local wildlife scene.

The island trail was aptly named, and as usual there were large amounts of muck and standing water all along the marshy path. After fording a particularly mucky section in my boots, the trail suddenly opened up and was free of humans.

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Settling off to one of the side docks, I was able to identify some lovely Wood Ducks before a resident pair of Canada Geese decided to stop on by.

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The area was so devoid of foot traffic there were frogs sitting along the path that would loudly chirp and jump into the water when I got within 10 feet of them. I wasn’t able to actually see one of these frogs until much later, when I was able to spot a rather large black toad at an extreme range with binoculars. As usual, one of the most visible signs of the changing conditions at the trail was visible in the form of a bench that only allowed access via water.

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One particularly challenging stretch was around a foot of a water/mud mixture with a very tenuous central core of small branches. After witnessing the only other people on the trail barely make it across without falling, I used a combination of balance, luck, and a very long stick to ford my way across.

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You may recognize this as the location of the marsh dunking incident some years ago.

After the spotting of a very elusive pair of American Goldfinch, a peaceful gathering of Mallard Ducks quickly escalated into a fight between two drakes and a hen. A struggle ensued.

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The hen was able to wrest herself away and fly off to freedom!

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After crossing a final marsh, the main path resumed and more pedestrians showed up, including a couple with an extremely large off-leash dog. This was a sensitive wetland area that clearly had “no dog” signs, but not only did they ignore that, they decided it didn’t even need to be on a leash with all of the migrating birds around.

Friendly reminder that if you’re going to be on a trail with your pet, make sure you’re following the rules and not being a total asshat.

 

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