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Cottonwood Pond

Johanna Tackett 0

Cottonwood Pond is about two miles out of a small town near a forested area. It lies in an old grazing pasture that had been left to return to nature because it was too soggy for good grazing. Marsh lilies filled the pasture after the cattle were taken off and cottonwood seedlings were allowed to take roots and grow into tall trees. Blackberries tumbled along the higher rocky areas of the pasture. After a nearby river flooded, downed trees and brush built up along one side of the river and allowed a small creek to break off from the larger river and start running through the middle of the old pastureland. This new creek caught the eye a couple of beavers.

All those nice cottonwood trees were just the right size for cutting down and the new creek was perfect to dam up. The beavers got busy and built their new home.

Soon the creek backed up and spread into the meadow and Cottonwood Pond was born. Cattail fuzz blew in from a nearby ditch and soon seedling cattails began to grow along the edges of the pond. Ducks, blue herons, redwing blackbirds, kingfishers and insects flew in. Frogs and toads hopped in. Turtles, muskrats, raccoons and otters came by foot. Snakes came by slither. Fish, snails, mussels and clams arrived in the creek water diverted from the larger river. 

Many of the animals arrived with seeds stuck to their coats, their feathers or their feet. Some seeds arrived in the digestive track of the animals that consumed them. These seeds were transferred to the water and Cottonwood Pond became home to a large number of different kinds of plants like reeds, sedges and duckweed.

All that happened ten years ago and now Cottonwood Pond is a large and flourishing community of plants and animals. They, the animals and plants, all depend on one another for the community of Cottonwood Pond to thrive. This is their story.

April 2005 to January 2006 covers pond critters from amoebas to herons.

February 2006 and beyond, chapters from Once Upon a Pond.

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