Evening at the Marsh

After nearly a week of muggy air and heavy rains, mild, drier weather has settled into Missouri. Taking advantage of the pleasant conditions, we headed down to our local wetland preserve last evening.

The wildlife seemed to be enjoying the weather as much as we were. Indigo buntings sang from atop the saplings, goldfinches and eastern kingbirds moved across the prairie and eastern bluebirds, aglow in the late day sun, guarded their nest boxes. The woodland border was alive with the calls and activity of numerous birds, including yellow-billed cuckoos, great crested flycatchers, eastern wood pewees, red-bellied woodpeckers, yellow warblers, northern orioles and blue-gray gnatcatchers. Closer to the water, common yellowthroats scoured the thickets, green-backed herons haunted the shallows and red-winged blackbirds sang from the cattails. The distinctive call of cricket frogs echoed across the marsh, now joined by the deep rumble of bullfrogs. Oblivious to all of this noise and activity, painted turtles lounged on half-submerged logs, slipping into the water as we approached.

As dusk settled on the wetland, common nighthawks flapped across the evening sky, barn and tree swallows made their last forays of the day, little brown bats circled above the marsh and a barred owl called from the creekside forest. Darkness brought fireflies, flashing their own affection for this spectacular June evening.