Bald eagles nesting near the border of Eagle Marsh have fledged two young in each of the past two years and are busy feeding eaglets again. Last fall, staff discovered a large eagle nest in the 13-acre woods at Arrowhead Marsh, near Roanoke, and this spring they have seen the parents tending to at least two young. While delighted that these majestic birds are breeding at our preserves, we caution visitors to stay at least 100 feet from the nests because distressed adults sometimes abandon their offspring.
Government construction to enlarge the berm on the Graham-McCulloch Ditch at Eagle Marsh has resumed. For your safety, please stay away from the work area at all times. Remaining open are Trails 1 and 2 at the west end of the preserve; Trails 7, 8 and 9 east of the gravel road leading to the barn; and the southern part of Trail 6. All other trails are closed until the work is completed, hopefully by the end of 2015.
All LRWP members are invited to attend our annual meeting on Wednesday, June 17 at 6:30pm at the LRWP office, 7209 Engle Road, Fort Wayne. Those present will vote on board members up for reelection: Bill Etzler (board president), Marlene Sloat (finance committee), Kathie Sessions (development committee), Karen Surguine (development committee) and Renee Wright (Facebook page administrator).
As spring fades into summer on Friday, June 19, LRWP will host its second annual Wine on the Wetlands, a wine-tasting fundraiser, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. The event, presented by Aqua Indiana, will be held in the Eagle Marsh barn (6801 Engle Road, Fort Wayne) and a large tent set up for the occasion. Dress is casual.
Guests will sample wines from five "WINE Tour" Wineries of Indiana's Northeast (Country Heritage, Fruit Hills, McClure’s Orchard, Tonne, and Two-EEs) and can purchase wine by the glass, bottle, or case. Light appetizers will be provided, with food also available for purchase. Musician Kenny Bergle will play light jazz in the background. Guests are invited to enjoy a short guided hike at the preserve if they wish. Everyone will receive a commemorative wine glass.
Reservations ($35 each) should be secured in advance as attendance is limited to 400 people. Call 260-478-2515 for information or to pay by credit card, or mail your check to LRWP, 7209 Engle Road, Suite 200, Fort Wayne 46804. Attendees must be age 21 or older.
LRWP’s Executive Director Amy Silva and Director of Preserves and Programs Betsy Yankowiak recently completed Purdue University's Watershed Leadership Academy. This program, which requires meetings, homework and a large final project over a five-month period, brings together watershed professionals from throughout the state for advanced training in watershed management and conservation.
If you were a male marsh wren singing to attract a willing mate, would you want to be overheard by scientists interested that you had chosen Eagle Marsh as "an important breeding location"? That was the fate of 14 tiny brown birds with stand-up tails surveyed in last spring’s BioBlitz. Besides singing and breeding, marsh wrens, which are endangered in Indiana, eat mainly insects, spiders and snails.
They weren’t the only imperiled species whose plans for spring love were discovered by the 120+ Indiana Academy of Science experts and volunteers who came from all over the state to survey the plants and animals of Eagle Marsh. The experts worked in teams over a two-day period to gather their data, giving LRWP an invaluable baseline of information about what lives at the marsh.
Probably also interrupted during a tryst were a male and female Blanding’s turtle, found together. These medium-sized turtles with bright yellow throats are highly endangered in Indiana and throughout much of their range. They need clean shallow water and large contiguous habitats to survive, making Eagle Marsh an ideal home.
All the frogs surveyed were at the height of their mating season, with most calling like crazy. Northern leopard frogs, green with black spots, are a species of special concern in Indiana but were "very abundant and found in most habitats," i.e. hopping everywhere, at Eagle Marsh.
Of the six endangered or threatened bird species found, bald eagles and black-crowned night herons are known to nest at or near the preserve, while male marsh wrens obviously hope to. Perhaps the other three—great egrets, black terns, and common nighthawks--were just more private in their courtship.
The report concluded that the findings, "revealed the remarkable species richness and the inherent value" of Eagle Marsh, a wetland restored from farmland less than ten years ago. The presence of so many imperiled wildlife breeding at the preserve also affirms its importance for the future of these species.
|Found during two-day BioBlitz||# species|
|Beetles (not all counted)||64|
After several years of planning by federal and state agencies, with the help of LRWP staff, the several-million-dollar berm construction project at Eagle Marsh has begun. One of the first tasks completed was a special fence to keep turtles (especially endangered Blanding’s turtles known to live at Eagle Marsh) and snakes from hibernating in the berm along the east side of the Graham-McCulloch Ditch, which will be under construction before they might awaken. Also, some trails at the preserve have been closed to visitors (see News Briefs).
During construction, the berm along the east side of the Graham-McCulloch Ditch at Eagle Marsh will be widened to about 80 feet and built about two feet higher in most places. This larger barrier is designed to make sure that when the St Marys River (which flows toward Lake Erie) experiences a significant flood event and sends water back down Junk Ditch into Eagle Marsh, it will not mix with high water from the Graham-McCulloch Ditch, which flows toward the Wabash.
The soil used to enlarge the berm will come from digging out and widening several existing ponds at Eagle Marsh. LRWP preferred not to use soils from elsewhere, which can contain seeds of invasive plants.
After the construction is complete--in 2015 if all goes according to plan—the new berm will be seeded with grasses and LRWP will be responsible for its routine maintenance. The chain-linked fence, built earlier at Eagle Marsh to prevent Asian carp from moving to the Great Lakes watershed during a major flood event, will also be removed and a smaller fence installed in the berm near the railroad tracks.
While this major disruption of our preserve will be uncomfortable, we understand the need to fight problematic invasive species, just as we must always combat non-native invasive plants at our properties.