Great Egret

Great Egret

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Some recent wetland visits

Wetlands are fun to visit in mid summer. By now the water has warmed up considerably, with many plants and creatures quite abundant and in prime condition. A visit to any of the wetlands in Chatham-Kent, such as Rondeau, McGeachy Pond or St. Clair NWA or elsewhere is a worthwhile time.

Rondeau Marsh

As the water warms up, aquatic plants send up their stems and many floating plants can be seen. Fragrant Water Lilies have rather large leaves, and in between the leaves are the striking flowers. The flowers provide nectar for pollinators. The leaves provide shade for critters beneath the water, as well as being something for other critters to rest and bask on. Of course they also absorb sunlight energy to provide nourishment for the plant.

Fragrant Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)

A much smaller floating plant is European Frog-bit. It has very small floating leaves by comparison, with a three-petaled white flower. It is not native to North America, but was discovered in the western part of Lake Ontario several decades ago. The first record for Lake Erie was at Rondeau back in about 1977, when a former university professor of mine who specialized in aquatic vascular plants came to visit me while I was working at Rondeau and during the course of our canoeing through the Rondeau marsh, he discovered it. Since that time, it has become quite abundant in the quiet waters of the Rondeau Marsh and Bay as well as many sloughs. It has also expanded to many other wetlands in the Great Lakes.

European Frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)

Here, somewhat appropriately, a couple of Green Frogs are seen amidst the abundant frog-bit.

One of my favourite wetland plants is Pickerelweed. Its presence is usually an indicator of somewhat deeper water. Bees love the flowers of these plants. It has unusual flowering arrangement, often with the flowering parts (pistils and stamens) arranged in three different combinations of sizes and lengths, even on the same plant.

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

Here a Blanding's Turtle is feeding on aquatic vegetation. It is wandering through an extensive mat of duckweed, those really small floating plants which will have one or several tiny dangling rootlets. This turtle has a high-domed shell and a bright yellow chin and throat. Unfortunately from the perspective of this photo, neither feature is evident.

Dragonflies are abundant as well. Here a Widow Skimmer is at rest, while below is a female White-faced Meadowhawk.

Widow Skimmer

White-faced Meadowhawk

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