e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

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An evening walk

We went out when it cooled off (it was just over 90, and very humid) and spent a couple of hours wandering, taking pictures, wandering, taking pictures, wandering, sitting, wandering, taking pictures.   Started out to look at the flowering obedient plants (lovely deep rose/purple flowers) growing in the secondary drainage ditch, above the main pool system that ends in the big (when it rains) pool held by the #3 gabion.

Decades ago, someone dug a ditch from the highway to the east, a diagonal line down to the south fenceline.  It was supposed to carry highway and other runoff across without eroding the place.  Since it was placed with utter disregard for the natural drainage pattern (but so was the highway!) it didn't work quite right, and years of overgrazing and trampling by cattle created breaches in its sides.  Now there are two drainage systems in the east grass, .the natural one and the ditch, which interact in strange and wonderful ways.   Downstream, the ditch has become full of brush  and trees...a shady, thickety habitat for birds and bunnies.  Upstream, it's now (thanks to management changes) mostly covered, sides and bottom, with grass, sedges, and forbs.   In some areas, a rocky bottom is exposed.  In wet times, it now forms a series of little ephemeral rain-pools, with slow-moving clear water between them.  These form habitat for aquatic insects, small amphibians, crayfish, with a maximum depth of 6-8 inches.  There's finally enough vegetation upslope that the water is usually perfectly clear.  (Since this ditch has highway runoff, that doesn't mean free of pollution!) 

Yesterday evening, this little pool yielded many spreadwing damselfies (that I don't know), a couple of female Variegated Meadowhawks, some little aquatic beetles (little black things that dove and swam), and a fairly small crayfish.  Butterflies nectared at the flowers (onion family, mostly) around the pool.

Tags: habitat, odonates, water, wildlife management

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