Saturday, October 4, 2008

October Marsh

The early October marsh is not your noisy, buggy wetland of late spring and summer. Gone are the colorful songbirds, flitting among the thickets. Absent is the croaking of frogs and the trilling of toads. Gone are the clouds of mosquitoes that draw squadrons of swifts and swallows to these prolific shallows.

This is a quieter place with subdued colors and patient hunters. Crickets and grasshoppers move among the dried vegetation, potential victims of leopard frogs and garter snakes that lounge in the shoreline grass. The frogs, now silent residents of the wetland, remain wary of predators (snakes, herons, mink) and spring into the shallows as you approach. Painted turtles, soon to winter in the bottom muck, crowd onto logs and bask in the warm sunshine of early autumn.

Out on the lakes and larger ponds, ducks and grebes are arriving from the north; their numbers will increase through the month as more intense cold fronts push across their breeding grounds. As the days continue to wane, winter songbirds grace the marshland thickets, content to feast on the seeds of summer's past glory.