Friday, May 11, 2012

Marsh Meander at Magnuson, May 2012

Magnuson Park in Seattle was once a Navy airfield. Today, it's the site of a 350-acre park complete with lakefront beaches, grassy hills, sports fields, and many old buildings currently being used as offices or awaiting reconstruction for new purposes. Thankfully, some areas that were once concrete have been recreated as wild lands, including a beautiful marsh that weaves through areas of brush and woodland.

It's hard to believe that the artificial playing-field surface east of it functions as a forest floor, allowing water to percolate gently down to the marsh, but it does. The piping of the Pacific chorus frogs who've made the marsh their home is a testament to that.

We went for a walk through the marsh on a sunny afternoon recently, on one of the first spring days that even hinted that you could take off your jacket and sling it over your shoulder halfway through the hike. But the birds have been reveling in spring for weeks despite the gray skies, as evidenced by all the busy bug-gathering, stick-collecting, and singing going on.

Male gadwall swimming among reeds
Male flicker hunting for ants and other insects in the grass
Male redwing blackbird keeps an eye on his territory
I'm pretty sure this is a savannah sparrow, based on markings and song, plus they're on record as living here. This would be a first sighting for me...yay!

This crow harassed a red-tailed hawk mercilessly, but interestingly nobody came to his assistance...usually crows pour in to mob a predator. Crows are highly intelligent, so we wondered if perhaps all the other crows were thinking, "Oh, that's just our stupid neighbor yelling his head off about harmless old Harry the Hawk, who never goes after anything but rabbits and voles. Just ignore him." The hawk was certainly unimpressed by his heckler.