In early June some marsh birds are still picking out their nest sites, while others are already preparing their hatchlings to leave home.
The Marsh Wren (at top of page and below) is the tiniest bird in the marsh and not always easy to spot, but its song rings out far and wide. Somehow, in spite of singing incessantly, the male manages to build not one but many nests. As All About Birds explains, “males routinely mate with 2 or more females and build at least 6 dummy nests for every female they mate with.”
While Marsh Wrens hide their nests deep in the reeds, the Great Blue Heron favours sites in nearby trees.
Their sensitive eyes allow them to hunt day and night – but this one greeted the warm morning sun with a big yawn.
Mallard ducklings were among the first hatchlings I spotted this year, on May 21.
Cygnets were swimming around the marsh just a few days later.
Where there are young waterfowl a Parental Unit is close at hand, watching over the little ones and demonstrating how things are done.
As twilight approaches the Mute Swan leads the cygnets out of the water to bed down on what remains of their nest. Before sleep a thorough grooming session is in order.
Just before dark I’m lucky to spot a group of less-usual visitors. Short-Billed Dowitchers* migrate far to the north, where the lengthy days allow the nesting season to be compressed, and their stops here seem to be brief.
As twilight deepens the Marsh Wrens often sneak down to the waterline for a drink.
For a brief moment, Yellow Pond-Lilies seize the light and shine as bright as the setting sun.
Photo at top of page: Marsh Wren Prepares a Nest (click here for full-screen view)
* There is little difference in bill length between the Short-Billed and Long-Billed Dowitchers. Judging by the colour and patterning I think this bunch are Short-Billed.