The Bottoms are toast. There is no water in any of the main pools. There have not been very many times that the area around the headquarters has been dry. It is now. Normally there are 2-3 feet of water with waterfowl and other critters and birds serenading or carefully watching everyone come and go. Now it is dry and empty. I didn’t even see a frog. I asked Jason how many times the Bottoms have actually been dry. Records are sketchy, and he is too proper to give a false or misleading answer. What a guy. I’m sure glad he manages our marsh. My recollection is that it has been dry three times since I arrived in 1990. I don’t promise.
The residents are uncomfortable. I watched an Avocet stagger down the road next to pool 2 and then lunge into the roadside foliage. It didn’t even fly. A spotted sandpiper was in a damp spot all fluffed up to insulate his little body from the heat.
I wonder where the young waterfowl go. They seem to disappear. I suspect they are out in the dense part of the marsh where there has to be a bit of water. It is a very dangerous place for them right now because every predator and snake is in the same area.
The dead carp are almost gone. There are a few skeletons scattered about the dry pools, but they have been worked over by gulls and predators until there is very little meat or tissue left. The sun is unforgiving in the dehydration process of returning these fish to the earth. It makes the blood worms happy. Crayfish dig deep holes and hide out in them. I never see them out of their little holes during this drought.
The young of the marsh are making their debut. I see lots of deer feeding. The spotted babies are usually with mom, but they are starting to spend more time away from the parent. The guys are getting velvet and getting snarly with each other. Archery season opens sooner than you would expect. I didn’t draw an elk tag in Wyoming this year. Usually the predatory cow permit is a slam dunk, but I missed this year for the first time in several years. Kansas deer meat is as good as Wyoming elk so I won’t starve. Todd and I always have a plan.
My tomato plants have not been healthy this year. I blame it on the heat. I have some white and lemon cucumbers that are good. I tried to grow a lemon crisp cucumber but the wind blew it off the main stalk. Jalapenos always do good and I have some whoppers to make poppers out of.
I don’t recommend touring the marsh right now. It is depressing to not see water and birds. Some shore birds are breeding at Quivira, but they are hard to spot. Pray for rain and cooler weather. All this will pass. The Whoopers will soon be on the move and it will shore up.
If you are bored, it is a great time to night fish and catch some crappie, white bass and walleye.
The only good news is that the mosquitoes are almost non-existent.
I will keep you posted.
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast. He can be reached at email@example.com.