A cold winter with deep snow like we're having provides a perfect time to explore wetlands, where you can snowshoe into places you could never reach at other seasons. The botany isn't as interesting of course, but it's still interesting to get into the heart of a wetland and see what it's like.
This wetland, an open water marsh with a lot of dead cedars, is on a Bruce Trail property. The standing dead cedars were killed years ago by the dam that created the wetland, raising the water level here. I knew that others had been in the day before, but I couldn't accompany them because of a meeting, so the day being perfect, I followed their snowshoe tracks in to explore it.
Their purpose in snowshoeing in was to check on the wood duck nesting boxes. There are three of these in the wetland, put there by Ducks Unlimited, and they need to be checked and cleaned out each year. This is the easiest time of year to do it. They did find remnants of duck nests in the boxes this year.
The boxes are on high steel poles, but the upper part of the pole can be lifted out to get access to the nesting box. It was hard to imagine a more beautiful winter day; the sky was a really deep blue and almost cloudless.
Wood ducks nest in cavities in trees if available, but there have been widespread efforts to provide nesting boxes to support them. They actually have claws that allow them to perch in trees, unlike most ducks, and they prefer wooded swamps or marshes with some standing trees - like this one. The young jump out of the nest the day after hatching, and are able to swim and find food for themselves right away - what an introduction to life!
This wetland is created by a dam a few hundred yards downstream, and down in the deeper part of the wetland there are a lot of fallen trees, and some patches of open flowing water. This was off limits for snowshoeing as far as I was concerned!
But thanks to the snowshoes I had a very interesting visit to the wetland, exploring an area I will never otherwise see. I liked the pattern of this photo, with the dead trees and last year's bulrushes sticking up through the snow.
Just for interest, here's a corner of the wetland, with one of the wood duck boxes visible through the trees on the right, taken back in November. This was as close as I could get with the open water. Quite a big seasonal difference!
Super series, and those boxes seem to be quite high for ducks, but maybe safer to hatch, away from predators. That is so different, how seasons change an area so much. Cheers, Jean.ReplyDelete
Apparently Wood Duck ducklings can launch themselves safely out of a very high nest - sometimes much higher than this in tall trees. And yes, it does provide some predator protection.Delete
What awesome photos! I have always been intrigued by snowshoes! As a child, I remember tying on badminton rackets and trying to walk. Such is the imagination of a Southern girl! Thank you so much for sharing your Winter wetlands and the primer on wood ducks..I have learned something new! Smiles...SusanReplyDelete
I find it interesting, that after a day of being hatched into this world, they'll jump out of the nest straight into water! An interesting look into their habitat.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed learning more about wood ducks, FG. Talk about jumping into something with both (webbed) feet; I didn't realize this was how they were launched into the world. I tried snowshoeing last winter and we went over a wetland area, discovering plenty of non-human tracks.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the informative, as well as beautiful, post.
That is quite a difference. Always enjoy your photos!ReplyDelete
I am glad some wood ducks seem to have used the box. They are such an attractive duck.ReplyDelete
This looks much like the beaver ponds in my recent posts. There are wood duck nesting boxes on the dead trees in the ponds as well. Nice comparison shot. The blue skies are beautiful.ReplyDelete
popping over from Sunlit Sunday - great photos...we have quite a bit of snow still here in LaSalle Ontario...thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG
It looks beautiful in the winter.ReplyDelete
Very interesting, and the area looks nice in fall and winter. Now I'm going to find a photo of a wood duck.ReplyDelete
Wetlands? A very valuable natural habitat. Too many of them re bulldozed over. some of the Calgary flood was caused by too many destroyed wetlands. Wood duck nest boxes work very well here.ReplyDelete
What a great opportunity to venture further into the wetlands. As you've shown, you would have to be careful of any open water. Beautiful scenes of snow, rushes and trees.ReplyDelete
your world looks a lot like ours, snow and plenty of it. in fact it is snowing now.ReplyDelete
thanks for sharing these photos.
Beautiful photos of the Bruce Trail, which we visited several times as school children; happy memories! Thanks for all the very interesting info on the wood ducks and the wetlands!ReplyDelete
My son and his wife snowshoe around the Bar Harbor, Maine area. We have a guy in Iowa who goes around placing wood duck boxes in wetlands and ponds. We have a set near us and yet no woodducks. I really like their colorings.ReplyDelete
Wonderful! Thanks for the trek in.ReplyDelete
I hope you had a poking stick with you, what is frozen one day can be open the next at least that is how it is down here. That is a great Wood Duck project! :)ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing the wood duck habitat. I don't think I will ever have a chance to visit one. That's a really neat experience.ReplyDelete