Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Changing Habitat in the (Former) Impoundment

8/28/12 - This week, the contractor is constructing a diversion channel around the Hopewell Mills Dam impoundment.  While the water was drawn down almost three weeks ago, the sediment is still wet and mucky. The diversion will help dry out the sediment so that heavy equipment can excavate the new channel and shape the floodplain.

The wet sediment, meanwhile, hosts migratory shorebirds as they head south.  Birdwatchers have seen Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) and Least Sandpipers (Calidris minutilla).  Both species feed on insects found in mudflats, so it's not surprising that they are flocking to the impoundment.  The photo abov shows 1) the new channel of the Mill River towards the upstream end of the impoundment; and 2) the mudflat habitat that is popular with the shorebirds.  The mudflat condition is only temporary; at the end of the project, the Mill River will meander through a meadow planted with native trees and shrubs. 

It is exciting to watch the site change.  Compare the photo above, taken 8/28/12, with the one below, taken from the same point three weeks ago.