Yesterday I was on the hunt: I was looking for hundreds of American white pelicans at a place called Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area. For the last few years, these pelicans have taken to stopping off at Goose Pond for fish and frogs and other goodies, in the middle of their migration back to the Dakotas and Saskatchewan, where they go each spring to get their collective freak on and create many more small American white pelicans.

This trip accomplished a couple of things for me. First, I enjoy seeing big groups of migratory animals. Second, I made my first visit to Goose Pond, which is an enormous wetlands restoration southwest of Indianapolis, a magical place, and a finger in the eye of the relentless paving and monoculturing of my state. I frequently run off to other places to get my nature fix, but it’s important not to dismiss my own back yard.

The thing is, wildness typically exists in Indiana only on an attenuated basis — you have to kind of work to perceive it. But that’s not true at Goose Pond. A century or so ago folks here were busily draining wetlands, which were widely believed to be useless, for farms. A little more than a decade ago, a number of heroic souls reclaimed about 9,000 acres and converted them back to wetlands. Birds noticed this happy change almost immediately, and in the years since, have crowded the place in numbers that oustripped even the most optimistic predictions. These wetlands are now one of the premier birding destinations in the Midwest, and perhaps the entire country.

Life, it seems, remains the most insistent force there is.

Oh, and I found the pelicans, after a long hike through brush and muck. As always, the rest of the images are on the Trailhead’s Facebook page.

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5 thoughts on “Pelican magic

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