Monday, May 08, 2006

Settling in at Lee Metcalf NWR

We've been here for almost a month now, and are settling into a routine of working at the visitor center, exploring the area, and just sitting around enjoying the view. We both enjoy meeting and greeting visitors to the refuge and pointing out the trails, the exhibits, and the wildlife events currently going on. This week, we watched a female badger move her pups to a new den. The female, who we've been able to watch for a few weeks, apparently tired of all the traffic and cameras and decided to take her pups to a more secluded location. They're interesting to watch; so homely that they're cute. This is a time on the refuge when all sorts of babies are becoming visible. The Great Blue Heron, in their rookeries, are beginning to hatch their young, the Canada geese goslings are starting to appear, and our resident Bald Eagle pair has hatched an eaglet. Soon the very large resident whitetail deer population will start to produce fawns and we'll be looking for coyote pups to also appear. Lots of activities going on; this week we'll host a "behind the signs" tour that takes visitors into the normally off-limits area of the refuge, and also watch a 5K/10K run/walk to raise funds for needy children. Next month the refuge hosts the local bass fishing club which will plans a day where parents can drop off their kids for a day of fishing in a pond with lunker bass. Overall, it's really enjoyable to be a part of an organization that has so many ties to the community. Brenda's been busy helping with children that visit on field trips, here she's working the crowd and amazing them with her knowledge of pelicans. The visitor center has plastic tubs filled with stuffed birds, duck wings, and animal skins that when passed around always get a reaction from the kids.
One of the interesting events here at the refuge is that this is one of only two known locations where Canada Geese nest in trees. In fact Marlon Perkins once did a "Wild Kingdom" segment here. It's a bit startling to look up into a tree and see a couple of geese, and you have to wonder how they manage with those big webbed feet. It also makes you a little more cautious when walking under trees in the woods. They seem to prefer old Osprey nests, but I found this pair happily sitting on an old dead tree:

While taking this picture, I almost stumbled over this prickly guy:

Fishing season will open here soon, so I'll have the chance to get out and try my luck at the local streams and lakes. Trout are the dominant fish here and although they aren't my favorite eating fish, with my limited luck and skill it probably won't matter much. Until next time, thanks for checking on us; enjoy your spring!