Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Action at Carp Pond

We've had several days of blue skies and pleasant temperatures here in Seattle, so I've been working a bit in the garden every day, getting dirt under my nails (even wearing gloves, I don't know why), amused at the robins' interest (due, I'm sure, to all those luscious worms being brought so close to the surface). But today, after a stint of gardening, we took time to visit the Union Bay wetlands that I so love, and this time walked also in the "buffer" region set up between the wetlands and the UW's sports complex. I can see why it's designated a "buffer" zone. A baseball game was going on nearby (complete with an announcer speaking over a PA system), and the backs of buildings and parking lots lined with dumpsters faced the water. So it didn't feel all that peaceful. Still, a gaggle of American coots and a couple of Canadian geese were swimming in the water, a red wing blackbird was perched at the top of a tree covered with snowy blossoms, and when a couple of blue herons that had been standing in some grass along the farther shore took flight over the water before settling down somewhere else, I wondered why I'd previously thought their flight graceless.

We found a couple of blue herons when we returned to the reclamation area, too, specifically at Carp Pond. They might have been the same pair, but perhaps not. We've often spent time at Carp Pond, as its called, but never before in such a noisy, turbulent state. One of the blue herons stood on a log in the middle of the pond, absolutely motionless. A pair of turtles were sunning on another log nearby. And a duck of some sort (I didn't recognize) was making a sound like resembling insane laughter. But in the shallowest part of the pond, the reeds were rocking and the water churning and splashing. Actually, it sounded as if someone was hitting the water with a baseball bat. I looked around, but saw no human in the pond or anywhere close to its shore. And then, as we took a closer look at the water, we realized that fish, thrashing wildly, were causing the ruckus. A passing couple (birdwatchers, of course, who often take the role of docents for those who don't know what they're looking at) explained that the fish were carp-- a nuisance, the woman said, making the water muddy and just generally posing a problem for the habitat--imported into the pond by some idiot a hundred years ago, the man said--and that the carp were busy producing more carp (the woman concluded). I tried snapping pictures of them when they surfaced, but to the casual eye they just look like partly submerged rocks or logs. Of course we also stopped to see the turtles in their usual inlet-- and today at least a dozen of them were perched on logs or swimming. A family came to look while we were there, and the kids about went crazy with excitement.

It really is an amazing place. Some people run there (one guy was running behind a high-tech stroller with a baby inside); birdwatchers with field glasses (at the least) or fancy cameras and tripods are usually to be found, mostly standing motionless, patiently intent (and today, two of those were seated in motorized wheelchairs); and of course parents (one or both) with young children, and solitary individuals, go there to enjoy the walk. Just what a city needs, right?

I've been following the devastation of the Louisiana wetlands, of course. But I'm also doing my best not to think about it too much. So disappointing, that that dome didn't work. But not all that surprising. I just hope it doesn't take them three months (to drill a new well) to stop the flow.

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