We have a small break in the rain and snow today and I am heading out to see how flooded the valley has become over the weekend. My waders and raingear in hand, I head out to the middle section. As soon as I arrive I can tell my waders will be necessary. There are a couple of mallards annoyed with me for entering their domain and they fly away quacking loudly. It is such fun to tromp through the hip-high water without the fear of getting wet, It never fails to put a broad grin on my face. As I wade towards the eastern fence line, I can hear other ducks in the distance. Today, I am heading for the Outlet creek area towards Mill Creek Marsh.
Everywhere I look there are beautiful scenes to take photos of. The clouds reflected in the water with the blue sky is enchanting. As I slosh around I can hear lots of ducks in the distance with occasional honking of geese flying by. There are the normal raptors out here, Northern Harriers flying low, listening for their prey, scaring up a few more mallards, White-tailed Kites with their unusual high note calls, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered hawks calling overhead, a pair of Cooper’s hawks are razzed by a smaller Sharp-shinned hawk and a pair of magnificent, not just one or two bald eagles, sitting in an ash tree, but a third immature as well. When I look down and see the road filled with tens if not hundreds of American Robins, I realize these could be the food for all of those birds! Run, robins run.
The last area I get to is the Mill creek overflow wetlands and marsh. It is teaming with ducks of all sorts. The many colors and patterns standing out against the yellow-beige of the tules and cattails. The sounds are ambrosial to me as I have mentioned in other blogs. There is something about the quacking, honking, peeping, and whistling that makes me feel as though I am in a different world. They are wary of me and therefore I don’t get too close. Here is ample food for many of those raptors I saw earlier, especially the bald eagles. The Northern Harrier flies over the marsh and in an instant, there are hundreds of ducks flying in the air. It does not take much time before they have settled once more and back in their routines, head down in the water looking for food.
It is the abundant water that brings the diversity of birds, plants, and animals out here. Water is what makes this valley extraordinary.