Monday, September 5, 2011

Summer is Winding Down

Red-tailed Hawk
I took a walk through Poygan State Wildlife Area yesterday morning.  A red-tailed hawk greeted me at the gate, and tolerated my presence probably because the hunting was good.  The sedges are beginning to change colors and many of the other plants have tinges of brown or yellow on the tips of their leaves.  Even though many are shutting down, a few are just getting started blooming.  The bumble bees seem less vigorous than they used to, these workers are burning out.  They have worked hard and none will survive the winter.  The water in the marsh's ditches is low, but filled with wood ducks, a few mallards and at least one blue-wing teal.  But there are some other interesting birds that catch my eye.
Wild Rice information

At first sight they look like birds that left the nest too soon.  They have the ungainly bodies of plucked chickens and flap their short wings in an almost hopeless flight.  These are not babies though, they are Sora--a little member of the rail family.  Like many rails, they are seldom seen.  They would rather run through the grass and sedge than take flight to escape danger.  Their flight muscles are weak, it is amazing that they will be able to migrate anywhere.  These sora are most abundant among the wild rice stems where I flush one and hear perhaps a dozen others, some only 15 feet away.  They look more like chickens than anything else, and love the wild rice grains.  Soon these little guys will be flapping those unlikely wings across the US Gulf Coast all the way to the Northern coast of South America.  Good luck guy, I'll see you--no, hear you--next year.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Plant of the Week: Spotted Joe-Pye-Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)

Joe-Pye Weeds are among our most attractive wetland plants.  They bloom in late summer and fall,  adding a touch of color in an increasingly drab landscape.  The plant is said to be named after Joe-Pye a Native American Herbalist on the East Coast of the United States.

More about Spotted Joe-Pye Weed