Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Walking the Indian Grass Field

I took a walk in the field just to enjoy the tall Indian Grass stalks.  During the next few months the dried stalks will disappear as their bases decompose and the dead grass falls to the ground.  Once they are down, the stalks quickly decompose and provide nutrients for new growth.  The transformation from dead growth to living is an unobtrusive process that leaves you wondering where all of that dead material went.

Despite a regular schedule of rain and wind storms, the Indian Grass has remained upright all winter.  A cold wind, combined with grass talks whipping my face, makes the walk a little less comfortable.  That turbulence is just a surface event.  Down in the grass, the wind remains calm and the environment is much more comfortable.

A small cedar hidden in the tall grass has been a roost site for some small bird.  The Indian Grass fields always contain a variety of birds.  Occasionally they’ll utilize a small shrub as a night time location, but more typically they’ll just find a convenient spot down in the grass.  I stopped taking nighttime walks through the Indian Grass long ago.  I felt bad about spooking the birds from their overnight roosts.

The most obvious sign of wildlife in the Indian Grass is the network of deer trails that criss-cross in all directions.  The deer create the trails, but all wandering wildlife species seem to utilize them.  Some trails have remained in place for several years, while others are created and abandoned seasonally.  They sometimes remind me of a county and township road system. 

Deer beds are located throughout the field.  These beds are located a little distance off the trails.  This is likely a strategy to avoid detection by predators that may find the trails to be a convenient way to travel the fields.  Most beds are located on the slopes or ridgetops where the ground is more likely to be dry.  A deer bedded down in the Indian Grass can avoid visual detection, be protected from the wind and benefit by the insulating ability of the grass stalks. 

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