Oxbow Mystery


When a channel cuts through the steep bank in a meander loop there’s a distinctive landform produced called an “oxbow”. This blog has a number of posts describing our oxbow because it’s a cool complex of unique small environments in the Creek pasture. These are each different ecologic habitats that support different populations of plants and animals. You can use the “Search” box to find some of the other posts about oxbows, but this post is about a specific critter in particular environmental setting.

This air photo has the several small constituent subdivisions labeled on the overall oxbow. The upstream and downstream plugs separate the oxbow from the main channel and the tie channel further separates the channel from the pond. The pond and the wetland are the main components. If the water level is high enough, they both get water from the main channel. However, when water levels are low the pond is sustained by groundwater flow from a buried gravel aquifer exposed in the steep north bank. The wetland, on the other hand, has completely dried up at times when low water levels are maintained. The oxbow mystery is located in the pond-wetland transition.

The pond-wetland transition seems to be the home of a colony of rare little frogs called cricket frogs. Like Topeka Shiners, they are a native species found in prairie streams. They have a distinctive call that sounds like two rocks striking together. Here’s a link to the post that describes this little guy and his voice: https://lonetreefarm.blog/2019/07/03/frog-calling/

These frogs are usually first heard in the late spring. In 2017 it was June 11; in 2018 it was May 24; in 2019 it was July 1; and this year it was June 12. But, this year I noticed a peculiar pattern. The only place that I heard these distinctive calls was in the pond-wetland transition. I checked the other main parts of the oxbow another 3 or 4 times after June 12, but the pond-wetland transition was the only place where the cricket frogs called.

Why do these little guys like that particular part of the oxbow? The plants along the bank close to the water seem to be basically the same as in other subdivisions. Is there some water quality aspect related to the ground water that flows into the pond? Are there particular food sources like distinctive insects in this transition zone? Do other colonies of cricket frogs have a similar preference for a distinctive environment similar to this transition zone?

It’s a “puzzlement”.  

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Weeds and Feed: Learning from a Prairie Hill

About ten years ago, a part of a west-facing hill was fenced off (“exclusion”) from the rest of the pasture because it had a remnant prairie with lots of native plants. This year the exclusion was added back into the paddocks because the lack of grazing allowed a thick thatch of old grass to build up. We could have burned it, but it’s a long way from water and I was nervous about trying to control the fire.

The native prairie exclusion was only about 1 acre, but it had almost 40 plant species including 23 forbs (aka “wild flowers”), 11 grasses, and 5 shrubs. Five or six years ago, we had a plant professor (“taxonomist”) from a nearby university tour the site to identify specific species and make the list. He classified the native prairie as “Fair” compared to others that he had seen on the Prairie Coteau in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

The top of the hill, like most of the Creek pasture, is dominated by brome and blue grass with some clover. It’s great for grazing, but doesn’t have much biodiversity. These cool season grasses get the jump on native plants because they grow rapidly early in the season, but the west slope tends to let the warm season natives do better. The air photo is early in the growing season, so the hill slope is brown with the dry old warm season plants while the hilltop is more green with the cool season new growth. The green area on the left side is the floodplain with a few plum trees and the brown and green strips on the right are in the field on the adjacent hilltop.

The Nature Conservancy is working with prairies of various sizes in Nebraska and the main technical guy has a great blog. He’s really good about balancing the ideal of restoration with the realities of weather and economics. Also, he blurs the distinction between “weeds” and forbs or other non-grass species. In this post he describes how he uses grazing to build biodiversity and also lists some of the plants from their prairies: https://prairieecologist.com/2020/06/29/celebrating-color-movement-and-noise-in-an-evolving-prairie/

These photos show some of the “weeds”/wild flowers that are in both our prairie patch and in his restored prairies. That’s daisy fleabane on the left (with a name like that it must be a weed!) and on the right white Queen Ann’s Lace or wild carrot with purple verbena. There are lots of other great pictures on his post. If you surf back through his other posts you’ll learn that increased biodiversity tends to make a prairie pasture more resilient. 

A couple of years ago, I went through the plant list from the prairie hill and picked out half a dozen forbs/wild flowers that had seeds available online. The seeds were planted in a patch west of our house (they’re wild flowers, you know) and some of them really did well. The photo on the left shows either Canada anemone or heath aster as light green low foliage in the foreground; there were cool little white flowers earlier this spring. The middle has some sage, but is mostly brome. And, the tall plants at the back are wild bergamot. There’s also quite a lot of milkweed scattered throughout the picture. It’s the tall plant with the big leaves. The photo on the right is a closer view of the bergamot in bloom.

This spring I tried to do some frost seeding on half dozen areas spread around the Creek pasture. I used a “wet prairie mix” that had 39 different species, although 40% of the mixture was only four grasses. Small seed packets of bergamot and anemone plus leadplant and purple prairie clover were added as “spikes” to the mix. So, the prairie hill gave lessons on what might grow, although the dry hill slope is not the same as the more wet floodplain.

I’m afraid that I’ve got a genetic predisposition to kill thistles, inherited from my father and grandfather. But, they do add to the diversity of the pasture and pollinators like them. Also, the downy seeds are finch food. Another pest that used to bother my family of farmers is milkweed. Yeah, it’s also great for butterflies and other pollinators, but it’s got weed in its name. Still, it doesn’t bother me as much as thistles.

There is a new movement in farming called “regenerative agriculture”. Some of the advocates maintain that the native prairie seeds are preserved naturally in the seed bank of a pasture. The idea is that with the right system of managed grazing, those native plants will come back. In effect, it’s working with Mother Nature rather than buying expensive commercial native prairie seeds that were probably harvested a long way from Kanaranzi Creek.

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Civil War PTSD Along the Creek

The Farm has a connection to Civil War veterans: a son in the homesteading family married the daughter of a veteran. The families of that veteran and his brother-in-law, who was also a veteran, lived about four miles up the Creek where a major trail crossed the Kanaranzi. In fact, there was a cluster of about eight veterans and their families who lived in that area. This is all described in the blog post for May 5 called Civil War Trails and it even has some maps.

This portrait of Great-grandpa James Walker was taken at about the time that he joined the army. He carried this “mess kit” throughout his time in the service. It folds up into the wooden handle like a jack knife.

On August 14, 1862, James Walker and his brother-in-law, George Barnes, and a third friend, Miles Birkett, enlisted together we think at Dubuque, Iowa. Although they varied in age (20, 32, and 18 respectively), they all three signed up for a three year enlistment rather than the optional one hundred day alternative. And, they all joined the 32nd Iowa Infantry Regiment, although Barnes later moved to the 4th Iowa Calvary. Walker served as a courier attached to command headquarters and Birkett was a regimental drummer.

It’s unclear how these three came to know each other in Iowa because they all three had moved around a lot before that. Walker was born in Ireland, immigrated to the U.S. and lived in Ohio for a time before settling in Iowa. Barnes was born in Vermont, came west as a child, and also ended up in Iowa. Birkett was born in Canada, immigrated to the U.S. and lived in Illinois before moving to Iowa.

These shared histories of mobility before the Civil War and the long enlistment periods during the war are attributes shared by other Civil War veterans who settled in clusters or colonies after the war in South Dakota (Hackemer, 2019).

But, there is another hallmark of veterans who lived in these clusters: they usually had seen substantial military action or had been wounded. One way to get a handle on wartime experiences is to find the specific outfit listed in Fox’s Regimental Losses in the American Civil War also known as Three Hundred Fighting Regiments (Hackemer, 2017). It’s available online and does include the 32ND Iowa Infantry. So, it’s very possible that the three Civil War veterans who homesteaded on Kanaranzi Creek had difficult wartime experiences and may have had some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

We now know that “battle fatigue” and “shell shock” were probably some of the more extreme expressions of PTSD that came out of later wars. But, after Viet Nam we began to recognize that those deep emotional scars may also be expressed in more subtle behavior patterns like alcoholism and domestic violence. And, it is often the families of these wounded warriors who end up caring for their loved ones even if some forms of institutional help might be available. This was especially true after the Civil War.

Our three veterans mustered out on August 24, 1865. And, before they took soldiers’ homesteads along the Kanaranzi in 1871, they all three were married in Franklin County, Iowa. So, they were family men. Although there are no stories pointing to clear PTSD symptoms, the Barnes family always blamed George’s premature death on what he experienced in the war. We do know that he was receiving some sort of disability payments. His young wife was left with two small children and a farm to run. Who knows what subtle behavior in the other two families may also have been expressions of combat trauma?

This is Great-grandpa Walker as an aged Civil War veteran along with his favorite book of poems. Did they remind him of wartime experiences or did they help him to forget?

This past weekend we celebrated Independence Day. Remember the movie Born on the Fourth of July? Google it, if you don’t recall the institutional failures it describes for Viet Nam veterans. In the early 1930s there was a march on Washington by World War I veterans trying to collect benefits promised by the government. And, there have been many difficulties getting PTSD formally recognized as a disability.

We should never forget that it is the families of our military personnel who end up on the front lines of dealing the physical and emotional fallout of service. We should honor those families who take up the slack when the institutional help is inadequate or nonexistent.

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Locating the Dugout

Although our homesteading family arrived in the area in 1870, they didn’t settle on the farm along Kanaranzi Creek until 1871. Their first home, like many other early settlers, was in a dugout. We know some things about this dwelling because Great-Grandma Hattie wrote about it in letters to her grown sons who had moved away to North Dakota.

These letters are known as “primary sources” because they came directly from the people who experienced the events. She described the dugout as a combination log cabin and “cave” dug into the top of a bluff with a small square window on the west side and the door on the north. It was a single room about 15 feet by 25 feet and lined with horizontal logs.

Several years ago, our oldest granddaughter helped me try to locate the dugout. Based on the description in the letters, she drew this floor plan. There are single beds for the 6 year old and the 5 year old. The 3 year old and the 2 year old shared a bed. The baby had a cradle near the parents. There are only 6 places at the table, so I guess someone had to hold the baby. This is her interpretation, but we also had some fairly specific things to use for locating the site.

We knew the approximate location of the “Lone Tree” that gave the farm its name. And, we knew that the dugout was supposed to be about 15 feet from that big old cottonwood tree. We found a square edge of raised ground at the head of a gully that seemed to be in about the right place.. This is what the site looked this past spring (the cap is for scale). Maybe this is the location of the dugout?

The feature was oriented correctly to have a window on the west and a door on the north and the idea was that this was the collapsed “cave” part of the dugout. So, we used the dimensions from the letters and tried to layout the rest of the structure. It was a dry year and later in the summer so the thistles are pretty healthy. But, you can see us in action as we set up the outline using string and electric fence posts.

If this truly was the location of the dugout, we thought that there would probably be some metal “artifacts” from the years of occupation. So, we used a metal detector to do a survey of the site. And, we got a hit! It was, however, an “artifact” that did not support the notion that this was the dugout location. This rusty nail is the kind that was once used to staple wire to wooden posts. Not so much today with the tech advantage of electric fences.

Fence corners commonly have a slight difference in ground elevation that’s in the square shape that we’re seeing here. I don’t remember a fence corner at this place, but the farmyard has changed and evolved a lot over almost 150 years. So maybe this is actually the location of an old fence corner? We still don’t know exactly where the dugout was, but maybe it’s a “multicomponent” site with the fence corner built right where the dugout was?  We do know from the letters and family lore, however, that 2 of the 5 children who lived in that small space were born in the dugout. Pretty tough to do social distancing in that setting!

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Native Americans Along the Creek

Last week’s post described some “treasures” that our grandkids have discovered in the pasture down along Kanaranzi Creek. Some of the artifacts and bones that they found near circular vegetation patches seemed to warrant input from professional archaeologists. That input came as a part of a geophysical mapping project aimed at assessing the significance of the plant circles as possible cache or storage pits.

An archaeologist has identified this arrowhead as possibly related to an Archaic culture. That suggests that people have traveled and lived along the Creek for many thousands of years. It also indicates that this site is “multicomponent” with evidence of use by several different cultures at different times.

Pieces of pottery are more useful than arrowheads for identifying specific cultural groups. Another archaeologist told us that this piece is characteristic of the Great Oasis people. It was found in the vicinity of the possible storage pits. About a thousand years ago, there were a lot of Great Oasis villages in northwest Iowa. Here’s a link to a description of this culture: https://archaeology.uiowa.edu/great-oasis-0

There are also Great Oasis sites in southwest Minnesota, so maybe the Creek was a travel route for these people.

In addition to artifacts and plant patterns, the magnetic properties of the soil support the idea that there was a dwelling and possible storage pits in the area. Measurements mapped and “massaged” by computer procedures show large and small circular anomalies that correspond with the vegetation patterns. The archaeologist who did the study interpreted the larger circle as a possible house outline with associated storage and fire pits. She suggests that this may have been a sort-term habitation site, probably associated with Great Oasis people.

The last Native Americans to travel along the Creek are documented in stories passed down from our original homesteading family. These travelers were probably family groups of Dacotah people who camped near the settlers’ dugout shelter. One story is about how an Indian mother compared her children’s dark hair with the fair-haired settler children. Another describes how the kids living in the dugout would visit with the families camped in tepees nearby. A third story relates how one man asked Great-grandpa to buy supplies for him to avoid getting cheated by the merchant. This latest group of Indian travelers adds another layer to this multicomponent site and the Euro-American homesteaders are yet another layer.

Kanaranzi Creek is one of four or five tributaries of the Rock River that may have been important travel routes for Native Americans. These valleys (shown in yellow) were all produced by melt water streams coming off a stagnant ice sheet (shown in light brown) located along the east side of this map. The map is a simplified version of a map of glacial geology published by the Minnesota Geological Survey. The glacial deposits in the east are part of a resource area known as the Prairie Lakes Region (Southwest Minnesota Archaeology, 1997). Maybe the early travelers were using these corridors to move from one resource region to another. The area to the west and south has very few lakes and so it represents a different set of resources. Isn’t it cool when geology can be used to explain the behavior of people over the centuries? Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that often!

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Artifacts, Bones, and Cache Pits

For six generations, the children in our family have looked for adventure down in the pasture along Kanaranzi Creek. And, they’ve found it: fishing and hunting, building rafts and shacks, picking up unique rocks and shells, and picking wild plums and asparagus. But, for all six generations one of the enduring motivations has been the search for arrowheads.

My brother found this arrowhead in the 1960s and it later became the basis for designating a formal archaeological site registered with the state of Minnesota. In 2018, another site was formally registered in an area that had lots of artifacts and a possible location for a dwelling. These formal designations don’t directly impact any of the farming operations, but they do provide professional archaeologists with useful information. However, kids looking for bones or arrowheads don’t care.

About five years ago, increased erosion on channel high banks started exposing lots of bones and some artifacts. Since then our four grandchildren have found more exciting “treasures” than all the previous generations combined. One of the kids “specialized” in bones. A lot of the bones were probably from cattle or sheep or deer. But, we found several skulls that were definitely from buffalo.

Two of the grandkids were exceptionally lucky (or skilled?) at finding artifacts. More than half a dozen arrowheads showed up on sand bars and then these two kids found these two gray blades. Technically, these beautiful artifacts are called bifaces. I was with both kids at the two separate times when the discoveries were made and I was definitely more excited than they were!

The bones and artifacts on sand bars in the Creek may have come from cache pits (which were essentially storage areas) eroding out of the channel high banks. This high resolution air photo is available online from the county. The numerous small circular vegetation anomalies may be the tops of cache pits and the two large circles may mark a dwelling outline. Although excavation is the only way to really confirm these ideas, there are some modern high-tech tools that can add a lot to the story. And, that’s where the fourth grandchild got involved.

Our oldest grandchild has been interested in archaeology for several years. She’s been on field trips to several local sites and has met several archaeologists. But, the possible cache pits along the Kanaranzi provided a really unique opportunity. We had a geophysical survey done by an archaeologist who worked at a museum located nearby in northwest Iowa. She provided a great role model and mentor for our teenager.

The archaeologist has since moved on to a new Federal job and our granddaughter will be starting college this fall. Even if she doesn’t decide to major in archaeology, her experiences will be valuable. Not only did this kid meet and interact with a scientist who is a woman, she was also part of the most recent generation to find adventure “down at the Creek”.

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Landslides Behind Our House

The first job that I had out of graduate school was mapping landslides. The Federally funded project was administrated by the South Dakota Geological Survey and was focused initially on the Interstate 90 right-of-way at the Missouri River crossing in the central part of the state. The work subsequently expanded to include multiple landslide areas north and south along the steep walls of the river valley. That was in the late 1960s and I’ve never worked on landslides since then.

But in the past several years, the bluff just north of our house has had three landslides that occurred in a clear succession from east to west. Geologic processes are notoriously slow and consequently geologic history is highly interpretive. Even though I didn’t watch the landslides slump down into the Creek, it’s very obvious that they didn’t all happen at the same time. It’s also pretty clear that the landslides are the result of channel erosion and deposition associated with the high water levels of the last two years.

Landslide components.

This is a relatively new landslide that displays the classic components: the slip face is where the blocks were originally located; the slump block complex shows that the landslide came down as a series of individual pieces; and the active toe is the area where the moving water removed the soil so the next block could slide down. The two sand bars illustrate where the channel was located when the active sliding occurred. The current open water is located to the right of the new sand bar. The roots of the tree on the right probably provided an anchor that limited the landslide in that direction.

An older landslide.

Here’s an older landslide that’s located just to the left (east) of the new one. It’s not active, so the slip face is not so prominent and there’s a lot more grass growing on the slump block complex. Also, the sand bars and mud flats in front of the block complex show where the old Creek channel used to be. The flowing water removed the sliding soil until the channel shifted to leave the landslide “frozen” in the current position. The tree on the right may have also influenced the shape of the landslide just like the one at the edge of the new slide.

View of both the older landslide on the left and the newer landslide on the right.

Both the old landslide and the new landslide are shown in this picture with the two trees that bound them. The slump block complex is more subdued on the old landslide on the left. The individual blocks in the new landslide are a lot more clearly defined and it is generally less grassed over. From this angle you can also see the two different levels of channel deposits and the open water of the present channel location. This is also a shot of a cool sky!

This wider view includes the beginnings of a third landslide on the far right.

This perspective shows both landslides on the bluff behind our house. The oldest one is one the left and the newer one is below the line of pine trees up on the top of the hill. On the far right is the newest landslide that’s active this year. Now the shifting channel has activated another completely different area to the west along the bluff. So, the time sequence is 1-2-3 from east to west. The large tree and flat area between 2 and 3 probably influenced the location of the newest landslide. And, as the channel continues to shift and erode along the bluff there may well be another landslide area that forms farther west.

Over the past week, there’s been a video of a landslide along the Norwegian seacoast on Facebook. The first time I watched it, I thought that it was another animation of a rising sea level, but instead it’s a huge landslide block carrying houses away. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it’s a dramatic real-time documentation of what has gone on in slow motion over the past several years on the bluff behind our house. Here’s the link to the Norwegian landslide. Unfortunately, I can’t get the Facebook link into this post, but you can find it by searching for: Ed Piotrowski WPDE massive mudslide.

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Channel Bank Erosion

The Kanaranzi Creek has had sustained flows at high water levels over much of the past two years. As a result, very active erosion has exposed a whole variety of features.

Long shot perspective of the high bank with two features marked.

This is a view of the high channel bank near the bluff just north of our house. The oxbow described in the last two posts is located less than a quarter mile downstream behind the plum thicket and between the two white ovals. The first of four unique features are located within the ovals and are shown in the two photos below.

The foam line marks the high water level in mid-April after a two-inch rain event. The water has now dropped to a level approximately the same as before the rain so now we can see features above water that we haven’t seen for several years. The light-colored gravel exposed just above the water was deposited by melt water from the last glacier and we’ve found bones of Ice Age animals that have probably come from this layer. The gravel is buried beneath black silt deposited more recently by the Creek. The photo on the right shows modern animal burrows down at the water line (dark semicircles below the foam line) and also up higher in light colored sand. The lower burrows were probably beaver dens, but the burrows up in the sand may have been exposed by active bank erosion. That critter probably burrowed down from the grassy surface and now has his living room opened out into the creek bank. The view is better, but that home is now no doubt abandoned.

This is a view of the same high channel bank now looking to the right of the cottonwood tree. It was taken earlier this spring before everything was green and when the water level was still pretty high. There also had not yet been much of the spring-time erosion, so there’s a unique pattern preserved that may have archaeological significance. The vertical light colored band shown in the photo on the right seems to have a triangular “plug” of grass at the top. This geometry is similar to the pattern of a cache pit used for storage by Native Americans. In fact this is near an area where we’ve found artifacts and buffalo bones so that might support the interpretation of a storage pit. In any case, you can’t see it now because of recent bank modifications. In contrast, the exposed boulder can now be seen even more clearly because of the lower water levels.

These two photos compare views of the boulder from earlier this spring to this past week. There’s less of the boulder exposed at the higher water level; at several times over the past two years the boulder was completely under water. Now, the boulder looks like it’s almost out of the water and surrounded by dark mud. Several years ago, before the high water flows, the boulder was not exposed at all because it was completely buried back in the bank behind it. The high bank has eroded back several feet to now expose that hidden boulder. As one of our neighbors commented, “Someday that boulder will be out in the middle of the channel.” He’s exactly right and he was concerned because he and his family and friends have canoed the Creek and the boulder is a new challenge and/or landmark.

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Water Levels in the Oxbow

This has been a really nice spring. The cold winter weather didn’t just slam into hot summer. We had a lot of sunshine in April; only about a quarter of the days were overcast. In contrast, last year about half of the April days were totally overcast and it rained….a lot. During April and May last year, we got almost 6 inches aver the average. This year April and May have had below average rainfall until last week when we had a 2 inch rain event and the water level in the Creek and oxbow came up 2 feet.

Before that rain event, water levels in the oxbow had been lower than in all of 2018 and 2019 because both of those years had record-setting rain. The resulting high water table and general saturated conditions maintained sustained bank-full flows through most of both years. And, those high water levels caused lots of erosion and deposition that produced lots of changes in the Creek channel.

The channel shifted laterally because of erosion (red) on the steep banks and deposition (yellow) on enlarged sandbars. This map (from the post on April 1) shows changes in the main channel between 2017 and 2019. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll look at changes near the “Bluff” upstream from the oxbow. But, the changes within the oxbow were much less dramatic. Most oxbow changes were vertical build-ups by deposition, especially where the more stable oxbow channel joins the dynamic flows in the main channel.

In 2014 the oxbow formed when a meander in the stream channel cut through to isolate the pond and wetland from the main flow. This first picture shows the location of the animals described in last week’s post. It also has the parts of the oxbow labeled as they appeared in 2015. The upstream plug and downstream plug are areas of depositional build up that separate water in the pond and wetland from the water in the channel, unless there is a high water level. Then the plugs are over-topped and water flows into the oxbow. The second picture shows the location of the two views shown below.

On May 12 before the recent rain event, the photo on the left shows the view toward the north of the tie channel as it appeared at low water level. The lightly vegetated high area through the central field of view was built during the high water levels of 2018 and 2019. After the recent rain event, the photo on the right is the view of the tie channel toward the south. This second picture was taken on May 18 at the time of a high water level similar to last year. The central vegetated area has been completely inundated and now the water in all parts of the oxbow is connected to the main flow in the channel. Raising the water level by 2 feet makes a big difference in both the biological habitats and in the environments of erosion and deposition.

This is a brief explanation about information sources. Weather and water level measurements were made here on Lone Tree Farm for databases maintained by the state of Minnesota. The map of cut and fill areas was produced in the Rock County Land Management Office. The oxbow components are based on a technical paper by Rowland and others (2005).

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Animals in the Oxbow

Last week I saw this turtle in the Creek. Usually we see snapping turtles (and have had some exciting family adventures with them!), but this one is different. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen one like this before. It’s a spiny soft shell turtle according to a friend who has done field surveys of amphibians and reptiles for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Their website says that the spiny soft shell turtle is not particularly rare and isn’t endangered, but it was a unique sighting for me along Kanaranzi Creek.

The turtle was actually in the main channel, but it was right next to a distinctive feature called an “oxbow”. An oxbow is a cut-off part of the main channel that usually supports a wetland or a pond during part of its existence. Ours formed in 2014 when part of the steep channel bank caved in and the Creek cut through the narrow part of a big meander bend. Our oxbow has both a wetland and a pond, depending on how much rain and flooding we’ve had. And, it has predators.

This heron didn’t fly away when I tried to get closer because it was fishing. I kept walking toward it and suddenly the head went down and it came up with a fish wiggling in its beak. The heron is standing right where the pond grades in to the wetland at the west side of the oxbow. I don’t know what kind of fish it came up with, but we know that there are Topeka Shiners in the oxbow because there have been two surveys that documented them in the last four years. There are also cricket frogs that probably also provide food for the predators. The blog post from April 13, 2019, has a picture of the frog and a description of the fish survey.

Here’s a nest of goose eggs that was along the shore of the oxbow last month. And, the nest looked a lot different last week. There aren’t any shells left in the scattered nest, so it’s hard to tell if they hatched or if a predator got them. It seems like the Canadian geese have not been around during the day for the last several weeks. Last month, they’d set up a racket whenever I was down there. Maybe they’ve moved up the Creek or maybe even flew on up farther north?

We’ve had a pair of eagles spending a lot of time this spring around the big cottonwood tree just to the north of our house. It would be really cool if they decided to build a nest and stay around all of the time instead of just visiting each spring and fall. As the leaves start to get bigger fill in the branches, it’s getting harder to spot eagles when they’re in the cottonwood. I don’t know if this big feather that I found at the oxbow is from an eagle or from a goose. Let’s just say that it is from an eagle….that would be more fun!

The wetland and pond water levels in the oxbow are the lowest that they’ve been in a couple of years. However, the heavy rain that we had this past weekend brought the Creek up more than two feet! The post next Wednesday will give some more details on that.

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