On Tuesday we left early to vote in the Connecticut primary and then drove down to the pond by way of the road along the Thames River. Some of the river’s banks are covered with an unattractive cement ramp, but, I happened to notice a swamp rose mallow popping through it as we were driving by.
Fascinated, I asked Tim to stop the car so I could hop out and examine the wildflower up close. How could it be growing in such an inhospitable spot? It wasn’t that big yet, maybe 2 feet tall, and I wonder how high it might be able to grow there. (They can grow to 7 feet, and the flowers are 4-6 inches in diameter.)
As I was enjoying the close encounter I noticed another wildflower growing through another seam. I loved the shades of purple on its petals.
Back in the car and on to the pond. So sad to see even less water remaining in it. I’m surprised the shorebirds don’t do their fishing over at the beach but they must have their reasons for hanging out here still.
Nature, like a loving mother, is ever trying to keep land and sea, mountain and valley, each in its place, to hush the angry winds and waves, balance the extremes of heat and cold, of rain and drought, that peace, harmony and beauty may reign supreme. ~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Feminist as Thinker: A Reader in Documents & Essays)
We’re supposed to get a break from the heat and humidity this weekend, which will be nice, but we also need some rain!
Another early morning visit to the pond. We are now in a severe drought. Most of the birds were on the far side of the pond again and most of them were snowy egrets! I’ve never seen so many here. But the one in the pictures below was on my side of the pond. Intent on her fishing, she seemed unconcerned by my presence, even though she was keeping an eye on me.
The great blue heron was still at the pond and remained stationary with his head down. Linda suggested he might be molting.
At first I wasn’t sure these birds were snowy egrets because when they came out of the water most of their feet seemed black. I wondered if the legs might be covered with mud. Then I noticed the snowy egret on the log above with one yellow foot and one black foot, confirming my theory.
It was fun watching the snowy egrets observe a mallard family swimming through their claimed fishing grounds. There were a few disputes. There isn’t much water left in the pond so I imagine what fish are left are concentrated into a much smaller area than usual.
Last summer we had plenty of rain and very few swamp rose mallows. The opposite is true this year. So beautiful! They grow along with the cattails.
The receding water has exposed some interesting things. I’m guessing this thing (below) might be parts of a horseshoe crab shell?
We’re doing our best to enjoy the great indoors while high temperature records are getting broken, ragweed pollen fills the air, air quality alerts are issued and there is no relief from the hazy humidity. Covid numbers keep rising. Thank goodness for the sea breezes at the pond and the beach where we can get a few relatively comfortable minutes outside every day.
We are in a moderate drought and it is evident at the pond. Normally those rocks are covered or almost covered with water. On this sultry early morning all the waterbirds were hanging out on the opposite side of the pond but I did my best with the zoom lens to get a few pictures. Some snowy egrets were here before in 2016 during another drought. The greater yellowlegs I’ve never seen here before, but had seen one on Cape Cod in 2015.
I’m grateful to the folks in the What’s this Bird? Facebook group for helping me to distinguish between the greater and lesser yellowlegs. A new life bird for me without realizing it at first!
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes: Uncommon to fairly common migrant in coastal wetlands and inland ponds, lakes, rain pools, and marshes. ~ Frank Gallo (Birding in Connecticut)
The Lesser Yellowlegs is a dainty and alert “marshpiper” that occurs in shallow, weedy wetlands and flooded fields across North America during migration. It’s smaller with a shorter, more needlelike bill than the Greater Yellowlegs, but otherwise looks very similar. It breeds in the meadows and open woodlands of boreal Canada. Like many other shorebirds, the Lesser Yellowlegs rebounded from hunting in the early 20th century but has declined again from losses of wetland habitats. It is on the Yellow Watch List for species with declining populations. ~ All About Birds webpage
Also, the swamp rose mallows are starting to bloom! Another summer wildflower I look forward to seeing every August.
I was so focused on those birds that I almost missed the flowers, which were on my side of the pond. But I’m glad I finally noticed them because seeing all that lovely pinkness made my day.
Five days ago there were a lot of birds at the beach, perhaps getting ready for Tropical Storm Hermine… I had some fun trying to identify the different stages of life of the laughing gulls…
We had a few gusts of wind which ruffled some feathers…
I wondered if the cormorants would be staying out on their island during the storm…
The baby great black-backed gull wondered if we would be handing out a french fry. Tim had unintentionally dropped one recently, renewing hopes for some of the younger birds…
My friend knows better — he’s content to visit with us. 🙂
We also saw a great egret — they don’t often come this close, preferring their island in the middle of one of the salt ponds.
The swan’s pond has mostly dried up due to the drought…
Sharing the estuary by the sea wall, we were amazed to see eight snowy egrets feeding with the great egret, the swan and a flock of Canada geese!
The calm before the storm… Hermine gave us mostly gale force winds and drizzle. Several branches and many leaves and twigs came off the trees, but no trees were uprooted in our vicinity. That was more than enough excitement for us!
Well, I’m sad to report that I haven’t seen my gull friend with the mangled foot since our encounter on July 10th… I have a strong feeling that he was indeed saying good-bye.
Sunday afternoon a different gull with an injured foot limped over to us to see what food we might offer him. He’s young so he hasn’t learned yet that most humans follow the rules and don’t feed the gulls. While I’m pretty sure our old friend was a herring gull, our new friend is much larger, perhaps a juvenile great black-backed gull.
Of course I was without camera, but I made sure to bring it with me yesterday. The sky was striking. But our new friend wasn’t there.
On Sunday the parking lot had been full of laughing gulls, but yesterday there was only one, and he perched near us, watching us eat. The laughing gulls don’t usually hang out on the white posts. It seems everyone is behaving differently these days!
As we left for home I spotted this bird wading in the nearly dried up salt water pond. Connecticut is in a moderate drought. We have many great egrets but this one was smaller and I wondered if it was a young one. He was too far away to get a decent picture.
Imagine my surprise when I enlarged a few of the pictures and noticed his yellow feet! Pretty sure this identifies him as a snowy egret, which is smaller than the great egret.
Not sure what kind of little shorebird this but he sure looked cute exploring the exposed pond bed. So many appearances in the flow of life…
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. ~ Alan Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity)