Friday, January 18, 2008

Hell Hath Rained Down!

Just returned from coastal Virginia tonight and wet gear is now laying all over the house, much to Amy's displeasure! The trip was successful, though our duck hunt was a bust. Enjoy the pictures.

New site we surveyed for a wetland restoration project! Good soils and only 1' of vertical fall over 8 acres! I'll take it!

Grave of Sarah Parker, d. 1915

Salt marsh is an unforgiving but exciting place to hunt birds. When the tide comes up, huge areas are flooded with shallow water, which greatly increases ducks' access to food - and decreases hunters' chances of attracting birds to a spread of duck decoys. This chaff and seed from Spartina cynosuroides was sitting on "dry" mud 20 minutes before this picture was taken. The seed is great duck food, while the chaff and culms (stems) are good food for aquatic snails that the ducks also enjoy to eat in the winter and spring.

Horrible photo of 4 male bald eagles fighting over dead chickens on a corporate chicken farm. Every day, the workers clean out the chicken houses, along with any dead chickens. They throw the dead chickens in the fields for eagles, hawks, and other scavengers to fight over. This sight was hard to comprehend - when I grew up in southeastern Virginia in the 1970s/1980s, there were very few bald eagles. 20 years later, they are common throughout the Chesapeake Bay (a wildlife management success story!), and far from being fierce, beautiful predators, they (as a whole) have carved out a niche as aggressive, opportunistic scavengers. The picture says it all - bald eagles in a soybean field, eating cold, dead chickens.

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