Continuing our excursion through the VW wetland, we made our way around to the far side of the wetland from our entry point. This side was on the VW plant side. They were doing a lot of construction between the wetland and the plant, but they had installed a protective barrier between the construction zone and the wetland to keep runoff from the construction from upsetting the balance of the ecosystem.
Because water does need to run from the construction area to the wetland, they installed a large pipe between the two that went under the barrier. At the end of the pipe leading to the wetland, they installed what might have looked like a giant balloon waiting to be inflated and twisted into a life-sized balloon horse except that it was a dull, opaque black color. It laid on the ground piled on itself looking lifeless and discarded. Our guide told us it was a silt bag used to collect all the dirt and silt in the construction runoff. When water is running through quickly, it does indeed inflate. However, no one has yet tried to twist it into a life-sized balloon horse.
As we made our way around the end of the wetland, we got closer to the array of solar panels. It was pretty darn impressive to see the field of panels growing electricity. Our guide told us that over 20% of the power consumed by the plant comes from the solar panels outside the wetland. This is an impressive amount of electricity when one considers how much power a manufacturing facility like that uses. The Eastern Meadowlark definitely thought it was worth singing about–he perched on the edge of the panels and sung his heart out for us.
This was also about the time that everyone’s last cup of coffee kicked in. First one person disappeared into a wooded area. Next, another one started wandering towards the woods. When we started following her, she stopped, turned and said, “I need a private moment.” We all laughed at ourselves for blindly following her. Next it was my turn.
This is one of those occasions when being able to spot poison ivy makes the difference between life and painful suffering. I am skilled at spotting poison ivy at any stage of development–young poison ivy vines before the leaves sprout, fresh purple leaves dripping with toxic oils when they first burst forth, ancient hairy vines twisted around the trunk of a tree. Unfortunately, I know all this because I’ve gotten it so many ways over the decade I’ve been allergic to it.
After I rejoined the group, I discovered they were all looking at a Merlin. It graciously remained in full view, perched long enough for me to get quite a few shots, although being about 100 yards closer would have yielded some really amazing images. This was a life-list bird for me–I’ve never seen one before. What a great day.