This week, I returned to the Ripple Rock Preserve to tour the portion of the property on the south side of Highway 17. If you haven't yet read part one, you can do so here!
Three straight days of rainy weather this week prevented me from getting out until Thursday to tour the property. In order to beat the afternoon heat and get back for a 10:00am meeting, I arrived on site just before 6:00am. The sun wasn't poking up over the trees yet, so the lighting was still fairly dull. The photo to the right here is the view from Highway 17 looking at the wetland from about the west boundary of the property.
I spent some time standing at this location, looking to see what wildlife I could find. There were many Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles flying around, a common sight in wetlands around here. A Virginia Rail was calling from the other side of the wetland and various warblers were singing from the forest behind me. A Hooded Merganser flew in out of nowhere and landed in the water, as seen in the photo to the right. See that beaver dam behind it? That's the same beaver dam that a bobcat was seen crossing just a few days ago! You can check out the photo here. I obviously wasn't so lucky.
After returning to the highway, I walked down to get a photo of the wetland from the perspective that I'm sure everyone is familiar with. No open water here, just cattails! In past years, Sandhill Cranes have nested in here. I did not notice them this year, but since I have been working from home, I drove by here significantly less this spring, so maybe I just missed them. In 2016, I was able to capture photos of one of the adults on the nest in late April, then in early June, both adults with their little colt! Sandhill Cranes usually only have one or two offspring each year and they sure are cute when they're this small.
I've added a few more photos from my tour below. The photos certainly aren't my best, but I blame the bugs!