Our field crew has been busy with maintenance tasks on our creek restoration projects, which means lots of weeding, and monitoring the recovering vegetation.
It is always so rewarding to see fresh new growth emerging from the plants that we installed years ago. Some plants, like sage, are already blooming, providing hummingbirds and insects with an early nectar source. Others, like fuchsia and gumplant, are vigorously growing and filling in the creek banks with dense growth that provide habitat for small animals. They will all be blooming within the next couple of months. With time, these plants will fill in and grow to be a rich, diverse, shaded riparian habitat. The trees that we plant on the water’s edge – willows, cottonwoods, alders, ash, walnut, oak, and elderberry – are gaining in height.
While doing this maintenance work, we always encounter wildlife and have been witnessing the coming of spring through these animals’ perspectives. Whether observing mating rituals or the upbringing of babies, we are lucky enough to see some pretty rare sightings this season.
With little to no aircraft noise lately at our Airport Creek restoration site, the sounds of redwing blackbirds singing every 20 feet in the cattails has become our soundtrack. Occasionally we have been hearing a creature deep in the vegetation that keeps eluding us but has such an odd call.
At our Hanson project, a pair of ospreys have been nesting in their usual spot near the river atop a power pole. We have been observing them as they worked on the nest and now appear to be incubating eggs. We eagerly await the first sign of a chick popping its head out of the nest!
It is just magical at times, seeing all the fluttering motion hundreds of pipevine swallowtail butterflies and the acrobatic flight patterns of swallows above the water to catch insects.
While doing work on the groundwater monitoring wells, we heard a big cat making all sorts of noise in the riparian forest. It was likely a pair of bobcats mating or fighting over territory. A few weeks later, we had an amazing bobcat sighting at the same spot. This bobcat was tuned into its prey and was aware of us watching from just a short distance away. We were able to get several photos and even some video of the cat pouncing on its prey and trotting away with some big rodent in its mouth.