August 28th – Wonderland!

The prairie grasses have exploded in the last month and are head high.

I’ve been at sea, counting seabirds, for 7 out of the past 9 weeks. From the Grand Banks to Lancaster Sound and Thule down to Kangerlussuaq Fjord. I’ve seen a lot of ocean and a helluva lot of seabirds (especially Northern Fulmars) not to speak of Polar Bears and Narwhals. But in all that ocean I never saw a tree and on the few times I did get ashore on Ellesmere Island and in Greenland, the tallest one I saw came to my waist – a dwarf willow in southern Greenland. And I miss them….

So this morning I travelled on down to the Farm. The last time I’d been there had been at the very beginning of August. You’ll remember that the field immediately adjacent to the banding area had been taken out of commercial production and seeded with native grasses. In early August there wasn’t much sign that the seeding had been successful (to my untrained eye, anyway – I’m not a competent “plant person”). So this morning I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY. The whole field was an expanse of head-high native grasses! Dave Gosnell had thoughtfully cut a trail across it to the banding hut and I hadn’t taken more than 5 steps along it when I scared up 9 young Bobolinks! We can only hope that this will become a stopping spot for them going forward.

Looking the other way.

I guess the considerable rain you’ve been getting (that I’ve only heard about) has been paying dividends for the plants. The grasses and the trees bordering the field and the pond were lush. There was lots of insect food around, including mosquitoes, and the dogwoods are heavy with berries. I spent some time just sitting in front of the hut watching the greenery sway with the wind while Cedar Waxwings hawked insects over the pond, which was well guarded by a Green Heron. A Wonderland!

I’m looking forward VERY much to the upcoming banding season, which I can’t start until around the 10th of September. There’s a lot of work to get done before that and I’ll start on it tomorrow: clearing lanes and trails, cleaning/tidying the hut…. But these will be labours of love…. as it should be a good season and it will be quite interesting to see the impact that the grasses have on what we catch.

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