I have been fascinated this fall by the wetlands area at the Clawson-Burnley Park on the Boone Greenway Trail. This wetlands area cleans the surface water runoff from a large area of parking lots and playing fields at the Watauga County Parks and Recreation facility and channels the cleaned water into the South Fork of the New River just downstream from the confluence of Goshen Creek, Middle Fork Creek, and Winkler’s Creek. This area is ADA-accessible with a wheel-chair friendly path around the ponds and it has shelters nearby for picnics and other activities. My fascination arises, not from these human amenities, but from the wildlife habitats which are generated by the plants growing in and around the ponds.
This goldfinch is only one of many birds that live in and feed in the wetlands area, and although I haven’t observed nesting activity for this species I assume that is probably happening. I have seen evidence of nesting activity for red-wing blackbirds and green herons, and there is ample hoofprint evidence of deer watering at the ponds within the wetland. I have also seen muskrat swimming in the wetlands which is a serious danger to the wetlands construction, since muskrat tunnels will over time weaken the dam containing the wetlands. Upon hearing reports of the sighting of the muskrat, the water specialist who maintains the area immediately made plans to bring in a trapper to remove the muskrat(s).