|Nothing like getting to play naturalist|
interpreter with a whole group of
(photo courtesy of Toledo Metroparks)
But this group was especially special in that it included both a grade school classmate and friend (whose visit was LONG overdue) and two individuals who served as mentors when I interned for Metroparks all the way back in high school. It's always fun to be with old friends and have the opportunity to meet new ones.
I'm often struck by how different the marsh experience is depending on how you see it (e.g., on foot, by punt boat, by kayak, by power boat, by MULE, by truck, by helicopter or plane, etc.). We walked on Tuesday, and I realized that I don't take the time to do that enough. Wildlife activity was modest (relatively speaking), but we did get decent looks at black-crowned night herons, northern harrier, and an eagle "pre-building" a prospective nest for next spring. The gathering was an opportunity to enjoy the sites and sounds, but it was also a chance to compare notes: what can Standing Rush learn from Metroparks and vice versa? Especially with the Park's recent and significant investment in regionally and nationally acclaimed Howard Marsh -- about 30 miles west of Standing Rush, down the lakeshore -- there is no doubt they are upping their investment in coastal habitats. There's also little doubt that we'll find some way to actively collaborate from a programs perspective moving forward.
I hosted a couple more friends for a late afternoon driving tour in the MULE on Tuesday. The sun had broken through and 75 degrees again felt like 85. That only made the eagle viewing and the intermittent sorties of wood ducks splashing in and out of sun-drenched cover that much more enjoyable to take in. Tuesday was a lot of talking though (even for me), and I must admit I was ready for bed.
|The group was all smiles as we pulled back to the bunkhouse; it definitely seemed to help the Conservation District|
board members to see our projects first-hand
Wednesday offered another opportunity for a beautiful, dare I say, early autumn sunset driving tour, this time accompanied by select members of the staff and Board of Supervisors for the Erie County Conservation District. This dedicated bunch has served as a critical local conduit, offering both technical expertise and financial/administrative support for the important work we are doing in cooperation with ODNR's Office of Coastal Management, ODOW, and the U.S. EPA.
|This sign was erected at the site of our first collaboration,|
"Structure #1," completed in January; construction of
"Structure #2" began earlier this week
-- more on that very soon
We could have kept talking. But ultimately, the short burst of evening mosquitoes that seem to be a hallmark of September on the marsh, forced us to call it a night.