Back to Back Summer Droughts
For the second summer in a row, Minnesota is experiencing below average rainfall which has created drought conditions in various parts of the state.
One birding stop that has lost all its water is the old treatment pond in Orono that once used to filter wastewater when the city had its own sewage system. The pond was decommissioned in the 1970’s when the city hooked up to the metro-wide system. The pond then became a quiet refuge for water birds including trumpeter swans and numerous species of ducks migrating through both spring and fall.
Old sewage ponds attract birds with their nutrient-rich water and secluded locations. If properly managed, they can be great places for people to observe birds and wildlife.
It is a beautiful walk that places one in the middle of a large wetland complex. In the spring it is full of red-wing blackbirds staking out territory. In the fall it hosts a variety of duck species.
Without water, the site was quiet. Not much birdsong other than a few catbirds and chickadees. I did photograph some of the native plants in bloom.
One has to wonder if the pond will ever get back to a decent water level that will attract the variety of waterfowl it once had. Even though last winter was one of the snowiest on record, it was not enough to counter another summer of scant rainfall. The number and diversity of bird species could fall dramatically in this ecosystem without abundant water.
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