Duck-Island Life in Beckley Creek Park
Close observers and frequent hikers of the Coppiced Woods Trail may have noticed that the original duck platform that floated in Wood Duck Lake in Beckley Creek Park went missing several weeks ago after a heavy rain. The Natural Areas Team, in hopes of recovering the platform, searched the banks of the lake, the spillway, and the banks of the Floyds Fork.
Unfortunately, the platform could not be found. It was not until Natural Areas Team members climbed into a canoe that the platform was found lodged underneath a broken sycamore branch in the middle of the lake. It had become severely waterlogged and had to be decommissioned.
Although unfortunate, this presented a great opportunity for the Natural Areas crew to explore other options for a floating duck habitat. After some research, it was decided that an Artificial Nesting Island (ANI) would be built.
The idea behind the ANI is similar to that of the original duck platform—it provides sanctuary and shelter for the ducks. Unlike the original platform, the ANI is built to hold soil, so native grasses and flowers can grow inside and atop it. As the name suggests, ANI’s were developed for nesting areas—specifically for loons, a species of bird that is not native to Kentucky. Although our native wood ducks do not nest in thatch, but rather in elevated areas above water, our hope is that they still take advantage of the new vegetated platform.
The platform itself was constructed with four cedar posts, equal in length, that were attached at each corner. Cane harvested from within the park was then fastened to the bottom of the cedar square to add buoyancy. Placed on top of the cane was landscaping fabric to hold in the soil. A mix of warm season grasses and wildflowers were then sown into the soil. Finally, the soil was covered with natural fiber netting. The platform was taken to the middle of Wood Duck Lake and anchored.
If you’re hiking the Coppiced Woods Trail or riding the park road, be sure to check out the new artificial nesting island and see who’s occupying it. In the coming months, be on the lookout for Wild Rye, Bundleflower, Sneezeweed, Big Blue Stem, Bentgrass, or Narrow-Leaved Wingstem (just to name a few).
About the Author
Evan began his career with the Parklands in 2013 as a park attendant and part-time helper on Natural Areas projects. In 2014 he joined the Natural Areas team as a technician and in the spring of 2015 was promoted to Natural Areas Team Leader. While working he spends his time promoting healthy habitats for the plants and animals that live in the park. Patrick was born in Morehead, Kentucky near the Daniel Boone National Forest, where his appreciation for nature, conservation and stewardship was cultivated. Patrick is a graduate of the University of Louisville, where he earned a degree in anthropology. His interests include cooking, mushroom foraging, craft beer and the outdoors.