Posted by: atowhee | September 5, 2021

BENEATH THE SURFACE

I was at Salem’s Fairview Wetlands at dawn today. No wet land to be seen. Marsh bed is cracked, flakey dirt. The transecting channel is dry as well. Whence those winter nutria?

Yet deep-rooted willow, alder and cottonwood thrive. Most annuals are drying up. Cattails going to seed. The late summer pennyroyal is pungently perfuming the feet of any creature who walks throught it. A month ago I’d have counted dozens of swallows coursing over the shallow water–today neither water nor swallow was to be found.

There was plenty of food for seedeaters so American Goldfinches were plentiful, plus three sparrow species: song, white-crowned, savannah. The song would have nested there this summer and possibly the white-crowned. The savannah is a usual September visitor, maybe coming in from their summer pastures where mowing and plowing has removed their food sources.

One unhappy sighting: at least five industrial buildings running their lawn irrigation systems despite the drought. Much of that water running down sidewalks and into gutters. The building occupants or owners somehow imagine their public image more important than saving precious fresh water. It is typical of the greedy heedlessness in our economy that’s pushing the planet and many species toward disaster and possible extinction. A few buildings had let their lawns go dry. Even fewer buildings have xeriscapes, sans lawn altogether.

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Sep 5, 2021
12 species

Mourning Dove  1
Anna’s Hummingbird  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
California Scrub-Jay  2
American Crow  1
Cedar Waxwing  2
American Goldfinch  20
White-crowned Sparrow  5
Savannah Sparrow  4
Song Sparrow  8
Red-winged Blackbird  2
Common Yellowthroat  2


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