Friday, May 31, 2019

First Marsh Wren Nests

At the put-in I have a long chat with L, one of the state's safety check guys.  About this time of the year the state has a small crew that goes around to the state boat launches to do some basic safety checks and give people information about clean boat policies that reduce the spread of aquatic invasives.  In turn, I give L a short lesson in Willet behavior, which the Willets demonstrate in a timely fashion.  Sentinel birds, Willets are first to challenge intruders and also alert pretty much anything in the marsh with their calls.  We watch a couple Willets chase a crow away from the nesting grounds.
There is an onshore breeze with the ebb about an hour in progress when I head up my preferred route towards the Sneak.  I pause at the first bend in the Neck River and note that the wind and ebb flow are canceling.  The canoe spins sideways to the wind, but  drifts neither up or down the river.  With the temperature in the mid 70's and the sky mostly clear, the wind is a fresh and positive addition to a fine day.

Just a hundred yards up the Neck a Black Bellied Plover crosses the river leading me to spot another half dozen in the spartina.  While I fumble with my camera, they flush and it turns out that it is a flock of about 40.  They swirl a couple of times and then settle a 100 yards farther away.

Marsh Wren
The Sneak is unusually quiet with much less Willet activity than I expect.

Marsh Wren nest
I continue up paddling through the middle marsh with little to report other than frequent calls from usually hidden Marsh Wrens.  The vegetation isn't yet tall enough in this area to be building nests, but the birds are here.

Above the arch bridge near the sawmill dam ruins I find a Wren nest.  Cattails take over from the spartina above the arch bridge and the cattails are about 4 ft high, tall enough for a nest.  I check closely and confirm that there is new green cattail woven into the ball - it is a new nest.  A bit further and I find a second, although it is far enough from the first that it has to be a second male's work.  They will build between 6 and 20 nests before mating occurs and as I can only spot one it is a sure bet that the nest building period has just started.

Above Foote Bridge
I continue up to Foote Bridge before returning with nothing particular except for being vigorously scolded by a Red Wing Blackbird.  I made a note of the location and watch for a nest on the return but spot neither a nest or that Blackbird.

It is a fine and fairly swift return riding the ebb at near full speed into a moderate wind.

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