The Wildlife

When one thinks of wildlife, it normally is just mammals and birds but members of all life kingdoms are represented here and valued equally.  From mussels to mushrooms, beaver to bacteria, and worms and woodpeckers, this property is full of life from the wilds.

Signs of the beaver

With the Ohio River so near, Beavers (Castor canadensis) are always turning up to build their dens on the lake or behind it in the inflowing stream.  They do take down valuable trees from time to time but their overall presence in the ecosystem is well worth.  They can be seen at dusk and dawn and if you are around at night you may see their eyes out on the lake as they paddle across the water.  When on the lake at night the beavers can give you quite a fright when they come up and slap their tail on the lake surface in opposition of your presence.  You can also see their cousins the muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) and their holes in the banks and the shells of mussels after they have a feed.

Speaking of the freshwater mussels, when the dam wall burst it was amazing to see just how many were left behind.  Now that it has been close to ten years since the lake has been rebuilt, populations seem to be building again with large specimens observed thanks to the feeding habits of the muskrat and raccoons.

Lots of different waterfowl can be seen at the lake especially during the migratory season.  Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are one of those species that are truly a success story of wildlife management as they were once almost extinct and now have very large numbers.  Double Crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) are always a treat to see each fall as they dive for fish and love to show off their white breast with wings spread.  Furthermore the lake also attracts birds of prey such as the Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) with their loud rapid call and even Osprey (Pandion haliaetus).  Once called a fish eagle by James John Audubon, these large birds dive rapidly in the water in pursuit of an unexpecting fish.  If lucky one might also spot the impressively large Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) feeding on minnows with their elegant form.

On land many different bird species can be easily viewed with all the variety of habitat.  Warblers call loudly deep in the forest while Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) catch insects on the wing in the fields.  The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is actually most easily visible from a bar stool as they come close to the lake from time to time to enjoy the insects in the open fields.  Other birds are elusive visually, yet you can hear their loud bangs as they slam their beaks against trees in search of insect.  Pileated woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus), one foot tall or more, are hard to get a close look at but below you can see they are a part of the ecosystem here as they create lots of habitat for other creatures.

There are other creatures present as well that often leave behind tracks but can be tough to see.  White tail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are abundant but because there is so much forest they are not as readily seen as other places because of the covering habitat.   However at dusk and dawn you can see them or when walking the trails that circle the lake you often see that signature flick of the tail upwards as they bound off.  In the soft mud in the spillway or near the waters, edge one can see other tracks from raccoons (Procyon lotor) which enjoy the watery habitat as well as the forest.  Other mammals include grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) and chipmunks (Tamias striatus)and lots of them with the abundance of nuts, and also moles (Scalopus aquaticus)burrowing through the soft Kentucky loam.  Bats ritually emerge each dusk and are a welcomed prescence for feeding on those who like to feed on us.  Finally the Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) can be flushed from time to time giving you a fright on the occasion.  At night one can often here the sounds of coyotes (Canis latrans) which do roam the forests of Northern Kentucky. Another animal group that is around is the marsupial with North America’s only specimen being the Virginia Opposum (Didelphis virginiana).  It is rarely seen but this omnivore definitely contributes to the overall ecology of the land.  We did spot some one afternoon, which was kinda rare as they are mostly a nocturnal creature.  They are pretty cute once you get over the weird look they have on their face.

Because of the lake, many reptiles and amphibinas can be seen as well.  Several snakes preside here including some large black rat snakes (Elaphe obsoleta) but none are poisonous and always flee on the first sign of a human being.  Leopard frogs (Rana pipiens)and bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) can be heard and seen and spring is marked by the familiar peep of the tree frogs none as spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer). Turtles can be seen basking on rocks and snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) may end up on your fishing line.

turtles  At the waters edge, insects can be very abundant during certain times of the year.  There is quite a diversity of dragonflies as these creatures have a larval stage in water and then take flight for their adult life.  Both in the water and on land they are vicious predators playing their part in the balance of a well managed ecosystem.  Here the land is managed as organically as possible welcoming insects like these and other pollinators shown below.

Fish and Wildlife management techniques have been employed and further development of habitat is a priority.  We recognize the importance of all creatures and even the fungi here play a big part in creating soil and adding to the overall biodiversity of the land.  Many edible and medicinal mushrooms grow wild here, just simply gifts from the natural world which this property has plenty of.

You don’t even have to go far to find them

6 thoughts on “The Wildlife

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  1. Doug, I get a sense of the energy and spirit of this place by looking at those photos. The potential is amazing and I can see why any person will want to live & work here!

    No doubt the abundance of wildlife will present you with some interesting permaculture design challenges!

    Cheers, Pierre

  2. I am from Lexington and had no idea anything this magnificent was this close to home…I have spent endless hours at the major lakes in this state and have enjoyed all the beauty and ambiance that comes with each individual location…Over the years I have owned several boats, from houseboats to runabouts to large full service Cruisers, etc..I am now disabled and have been looking hard to locate somewhere I could enjoy fishing and other outdoor activities with my three grandsons & their two cousins, whilst also seeing and enjoying other wildlife forms not usually a part of the “Lake Experience” or at fishing pay lakes, etc. WOW, what a wonderful place as it appears from this online viewpoint..I’m coming to see it over this Labor Day Weekend and see if it provides the access required (for those with disabilities) to enjoy and partake in the outdoor activity world again…Doing so without the loss of all the other aspects of outdoor sport, wildlife observance, etc…This apparently has it “ALL” ??? Praise GOD, there are still little pieces of HEAVEN available to some of us that exist in a disabled world on a daily basis…THANK YOU…Jim Johnson

    1. so glad you are coming hope you can drive out to the edge of the spillway and enjoy the place and fish out from there. we still need to make lots of improvements in general and for sure for people like yourself for more access. enjoy!

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