The water level in the lakes and marshes of the Green Island Wetlands is slightly lower than it was during the last few months. This is good at least for two reasons. If it stays that way the trees and shrubs that were submerged by water have a chance to recover and new growth is possible. The water level in this area is controlled and there are probably reasons, that may have to do with the adjacent Mississippi River, to raise or lower it. As a frequent visitor I noticed during the last years that many of the bigger trees have died, maybe due to a higher water level for too long. Woodpeckers and tree swallows may benefit for a while but in a long run their habitat can be threatened if few or no new trees have a chance to grow.

The other reason, the mud banks that were covered by water appear again and this gives shore birds, like sandpipers and plovers, a chance to feed and they may use the wetlands as a stopover place during their migration. My photo library reveals that I haven’t taken a picture of a Yellowleg during the last two years in the Green Island area.

Much to my pleasure I saw a single Greater Yellowleg foraging in the shallow water and on the mud banks yesterday. Unless you are in a boat, the shooting position is always from slightly above water level, due to the topography in the wetlands, and that makes it difficult to keep mud and old plant litter out of the frame. Yes, as a photographer I prefer the environmental picture of birds and critters and having part of a mud bank in the picture is considered part of the story for me. However, having an old plant stalk sticking out of the bird’s head is not very desirable. It took me a while to get a shot that I like of this beautiful Greater Yellowleg …

This post was altered April 14, 2018. In my first version I had identified this bird as a Lesser Yellowleg. After looking closer at more of the pictures I took and after consulting with a more experienced birder (Thank you Tony!) I came to the conclusion that this might be a Greater Yellowleg. They are a little bigger and have a slightly upturned bill. Other photos show this feature more pronounced than this one.