I think I’ve made it clear my favorite thing at the TRNWR is the pair of ponds. You can see a whole ecosystem of animals and plants in one well-defined space.
Unlike last summer — my first with the refuge — the ponds this season have been drying up. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the weather or because the FWS has been keeping the water reduced to control “introduced organisms”, a term l like better than “invasive species.”
So Tuesday when I went out there for a meeting I had to run down to the ponds and see if there was any water left. Alas, the one to the east of the walking trail has been dry for several weeks, and now the one to the west has been reduced to damp mud at the bottom. A trace of duckweed is all that appears to be alive.
I wasn’t the only one giving this damp spot some attention, however. There were tracks in the mud from some four-legged animal prowling the green space. It looks like something had walked across the basin and done some digging in the mud. I’d guess it was looking for a last meal. An interesting detail is that the paw prints of the visitor were filled with the shells of dead water snails.
So it has me wondering what’s going to happen next? Is there anything dormant but alive in the bottom? What will happen when the rains return and some water comes back? How will the population of the pond be different next spring than it was this year when we were netting all sorts of creatures to show the school kids?
I’m going to keep an eye on the ponds this winter to see if I can figure anything out.