I spent a lovely 45 minutes lying in the mud this week.
Spring hasn’t sprung very dramatically around here, at least in most ways. A few plants are greening up and some migratory birds are moving through, but I haven’t yet seen any spring flowers in the prairies I know best. However, some of the invertebrate world is slowly becoming active – especially in wet areas.
I took a trip to our family prairie on Wednesday this week (by myself) and spent most of my time down by the wetland. There is a kind of drain/slough that carries water from the hills to the south into the wetland/pond. The water level had dropped recently, exposing mud along the edge. At first glance, there wasn’t much activity going on, but once I prostrated myself in the mud, things started to happen.
Of course, one of the things that happened was that water and mud started to seep through my clothes – especially around my knees, elbows and stomach. More interestingly, I started to notice movement of small creatures. The first were little spiders, which I think were juvenile wolf spiders. They were only about 1/2 inch in diameter (including legs) and very speedy, but I managed to get a couple good photos of them. Once I was dialed into the world of small creatures, I saw more and more. Over a 45 minute period, I was able to find and photograph a surprising number of creatures, especially given how barren the landscape around me appeared at first glance.
Those photos don’t show everything I saw, including millipedes and a bunch of really tiny insects I couldn’t identify, but also killdeer and shovelers (ducks) out on the wetland itself. While spring isn’t making itself obvious yet, at least in terms of spring wildflowers, it was really uplifting to see so much activity, even if seeing it required me to lie down in the mud. I hope you all can find opportunities to safely get out and see what’s going on in small natural areas near you as well.
Be safe, everyone.