Turtles in Trees

After the heavy rains of this past week, the seasonal lake at our local wetland is as high as I've ever seen it, lapping onto and over the graveled trail. As a result, the local wildlife have been forced to adapt; those that favor shallows (frogs, herons, water snakes) have moved to backwater areas or onto the flooded fields while fish have invaded the lake from adjacent, swollen streams. Aquatic turtles, their basking logs submerged by the deluge, are now lounging on the lower limbs of young sycamores that rise from the drowned banks.

In general, the flooding has reduced the visibility of many species but, yesterday afternoon, there was still plenty of activity on the meadows and in the riparian woodlands. White-tailed deer and muskrats were more conspicuous than usual, perhaps driven from their daylight haunts by the high water. Kingfishers chattered above the lake, feasting on the influx of prey, while dragonflies, hitting their mid-summer peak, zoomed across the wetlands. Indigo buntings, cardinals and yellow warblers contrasted with the deep green foliage and summer wildflowers (horsemint, yellow coneflowers, buttercups and Indian blanket) adorned the moist grasslands.

As summer progresses, such flooding should become less common as heat and high pressure build across the Heartland. Riding a northerly jet stream, Pacific storms will likely pass to our north and the fierce summer sun will reclaim this landscape. Then again, the remnants of a tropical storm or hurricane could sweep in from the south, producing a late summer deluge. That is the beauty of nature: she keeps us guessing!