Sunday, May 5, 2013

After the Fire at Waseeka Wildlife Sanctuary

Today was the first opportunity that I had time to hike Sassafrass Trail at Waseeka and survey the damage from the 6 or 13 or 40-acre (depending on what report you read) brush fire that occurred there on April 28.  The smell was the first thing that hit me.  Really, it smells like you are walking in a fireplace.  That's the only thing I can compare it to.  The other thing that surprised me was that the trail itself did not appear burned.  Guess it was packed down enough from years of use that it didn't get charred.  Interesting.  Firefighters had trouble fighting the fire because of its remote location and the fact that there were no nearby hydrants.   I can't express how it felt to walk through this barren section.  No wildlife can be sustained here now.  The ground is just ash.  An occasional breeze blew little whirlwinds of ash around....

Because this sanctuary is located near my home, I have a chance to walk it more frequently than others.  You start to feel ownership after a while.  Especially when, over time, you are witness to the variety and beauty of the wildlife that is sustained by this one sanctuary alone.  As I've walked here over the last two years, I have seen:

  1. Baltimore Oriole (breeding)
  2. Barn Swallows
  3. Belted Kingfisher
  4. Black-capped Chickadee
  5. Blue Jay
  6. Brown Creeper (breeding)
  7. Canada goose
  8. Common Grackle
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Eastern Phoebe
  11. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  12. Great Blue Heron
  13. Great Egret
  14. Great Crested Flycatcher
  15. Hairy Woodpecker
  16. Hermit Thrush
  17. Hooded Merganser
  18. Mallard
  19. Northern Cardinal
  20. Northern Flicker
  21. Osprey (breeding)
  22. Ovenbird
  23. Palm Warbler
  24. Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  25. Red-breasted Nuthatch (breeding)
  26. Red-tailed Hawk
  27. Red-winged Blackbird
  28. Ring-necked Duck
  29. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  30. Scarlet Tanager
  31. Song Sparrow 
  32. Tree Swallows
  33. Tufted Titmouse
  34. White-breasted Nuthatch (breeding)
  35. Wild Turkey
  36. Wood Duck
  37. Yellow-Rumped Warbler
  1. Beaver
  2. Mink
  3. Muskrat
  4. White-tailed Deer

  1. Eastern leopard frog
  2. Eastern Painted turtles
  3. Garter snakes
  4. Northern water snake
  5. Wood Frog

  1. American Copper 
  2. American Lady
  3. Black Swallowtail
  4. Clouded Sulphur
  5. Eastern Pine Elfin
  6. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  7. Gray Hairstreak
  8. Great Spangled Fritillary
  9. Juvenal's Duskywing
  10. Little Wood Satyr
  11. Mourning Cloak
  12. Pearl Crescent
  13. Spring Azure
  1. Calico Pennant
  2. Chalk-Fronted Corporal
  1. Black-Eyed Susan
  2. Blue-eyed Grass
  3. Cinnamon Fern
  4. Daisies
  5. Foam Flower
  6. Fringed Milkwort
  7. Milkweed
  8. Mountain Laurel
  9. Queen Anne's Lace
  10. Spotted Wintergreen
  11. Starflower
  12. Violets
  13. Water Lilies
  14. Wild Blueberries
  15. Wild Iris


It is very dry this spring.  We need to be careful with things that may cause fire.  Please don't smoke in or near the woods.  Please don't throw your cigarettes or dump your ashtray out the car window.  Please don't litter the woods.  Please don't choose a WILDLIFE SANCTUARY as the place to walk your dog, no matter how convenient it may be to your house.  This is a sanctuary.  Let's keep it that way.

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