This blog originates on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana. It proposes to share the things that happen on and by the river as the seasons progress. As the river changes from quiet, warm, slow flow to rises of eighteen feet or more, there are changes in the lives of the birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles that use the river. And the mood of the river changes with the seasons. I propose to note and comment on these things.

My Photo
Location: Butte La Rose, Louisiana, United States

I transitioned a few years ago from a career as a water-pollution control biologist. I want to do this blog to stay in touch with a world outside my everyday surroundings, whatever they may be. I like open-minded company and the discussion of ideas. Photo by Brad Moon.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Current

What a difference in the river when there is this much water in it! If you get out in it, you can feel the difference – a sense of power that is missing in the placid summer/fall. Yesterday afternoon I had to do something that becomes very necessary during a rise – clean the trotline. The amount of material washed off the banks during a rise is incredible. In addition to obvious drift floating along on the top, I am always amazed that so much debris travels along at the bottom of the channel, where the trotline is. Most of the stuff that the line collects is light material like dead grass, but if you don’t clean this off every day during a rise, it can build up to three or four inches thick on the line and that results in such resistance to the current that the line can break. Not good for that to happen if you’re holding it. One of the things you usually learn by doing this for a living is when to admit that the line is too tight to handle safely. There is always the temptation be tough and try to run the line anyway but most of us had one close shave and didn’t try it again. Of course, there is more than grass traveling with the current, large pieces of wood that have only slight buoyancy also travel near the bottom. These can hang up on the trotline and will usually break it if it is already tight. And there is so much else down there that you can’t see - if the river would suddenly become transparent during a rise, what an interesting sight it would be!

One thing that helps keep the line clean is the presence of fish caught on the hooks. I baited one half of the hooks (50) last night with this in mind, and today when I ran it there were 18 catfish on it. Even with this there were places where the line was two inches thick – just from catching debris overnight. There were 14 blue cats and four channel cats, and one smallmouth buffalo (Napoleon’s appetite here exceeds his abilities). When you bring these fish to the top in a current like this they sometimes spin like a whirligig held in the wind, and you see why the swivel is where it is. How in the world do these animals search and find food in a current like this? And yet, they will bite until and beyond the time you can’t fish the line anymore because it’s too tight.

Every once in a while (hopefully not too often) a very big, and visible on the surface, piece of drift comes down the river and snags on the line. This would be a tree trunk or something like that, about 40 feet long, floating with its bottom dragging the bottom. This is a real problem and can result in losing the whole line. I have been lucky so far, and have been able to cut the line and retie it when a tree gets snagged. The process of doing that is kind of interesting, I think. Later.

The Butte La Rose gauge shows 7.5 feet, with 9.3 by Feb. 4. The Mississippi still shows some rise, but the Ohio is falling and has crested at Cairo. The pump isn’t pumping full steam yet.

Rise and shine, Jim

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Finally, we get some. The frogs may have a chance to procreate this year after all. It started raining here about 5:00 pm and it’s still going at 10:15 pm. The ditches may get a chance to fill up and hold the water for a while. The frogs need standing water for at least 30 days to have their eggs develop into tadpoles and then into very small frogs that can live on their own out of the water. These days, 30 days of standing water that isn’t a stream or something is hard to come by. I take part in the Louisiana Amphibian Monitoring Program (LAMP) every year. We do three surveys each year, one in the winter, one in the spring and one in early summer. Each of these is timed to sample breeding populations of certain species of frogs. The winter survey samples three species: spring peepers (they peep), chorus frogs (they rasp like a comb) and leopard frogs (they laugh at you). If it has rained near you, the chances are you can hear one or more of these species if you go out at night and listen. More on the LAMP surveys as the season progresses.

Cormorants again. One was out in the middle of the river diving this morning and I watched it for some time. The river is higher and muddy now, and is about 25 feet deep where the cormorant was. What I wonder is how do these birds find the fish they are supposed to be eating out there in the middle of a muddy river. They can’t possibly be seeing them, it has to be really dark at the bottom of 25 feet of muddy water. Mr. David Allen Sibley (The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior) shows a picture of three west coast species foraging at different depths for small fish. But that is Pacific Ocean clear green water, not our rich muddy river water. How do you catch something that is trying to get away from you and can swim about as fast as you can, or faster, and you can’t see it? It is a mystery to me. Enlightenment would be welcome.

The river is at 6.4 feet at the Butte La Rose gauge today, and predicted to go to 8.2 feet by 2/2. It’s amazing how much a rise of about two feet can do to increase the current and muddy the water, and bring down all the “drift” that has accumulated on the banks since the last high water. The Mississippi is still rising about 1.5 feet/day and Ohio is doing the same at about 0.5 feet/day. This should be enough to keep things up for a while, but the long-range forecast is that they will begin to drop again after a couple weeks. Oh well.

Rise and shine, Jim

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Late Afternoon

Late afternoon from the window at my desk. Boats with people in bright orange caps and vests were going up and down the river. Must be the end of a day of hunting on the lease across from our house. Sometimes I wonder what is going on over there. Often I see at least 30 people being ferried across the river to where they seem to have an almost endless stash of four-wheelers, and they start the motors and fade back into the forest. The thing is, I almost never hear anyone shoot from over there. Are the deer just very smart, or are the hunters just very unlucky, or maybe deer can see orange after all? I do know that sometimes they hunt with dogs because you can hear the baying from far away. But even then, almost no shooting. Could it be that if you put orange vests on the dogs, the deer couldn’t see them? I guess the men must succeed sometimes, otherwise why would they keep going out there?

Some folks have told me that they visit this site pretty often and even look forward to reading it regularly. Comments, by the way, are encouraged. You might think of it as us just sitting around a table in the kitchen with a pot of coffee (or?) and talking about stuff. I will be out of town for the next three days, so…

The river is at 4.3 on the Butte La Rose gauge today, but there is water coming. The Mississippi is rising some, and the Ohio is coming up almost three feet a day! That’s enough to give us the first real water of the season. We might see two more feet here by the 29th.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (Felis) is one of our cats. At right he is doing his "I can do anything a stupid crawfish can do" immitation. He chose this name for himself after trying several others that just didn’t fit well enough. He was abandoned in a parking lot in Baton Rouge as a between-kitten-and-young-cat, and we picked him up and brought him to Butte La Rose. We had two other cats at the time, both large males (sort of). When the new cat first saw the two others, he found the first shelter available and hid under it for several minutes. Noticing that the other cats didn’t seem ready to kill and eat him, he came out and sniffed around until he became more comfortable with the place. He weighed about four pounds I guess, and still had his hormone factories dictating his understanding of his place in the pecking order that included the other two cats. He pretty quickly assumed that his place was at the top of the hierarchy. A few days later his factories were retired for life, but he still tried to intimidate the other cats. They kind of tolerated him, all four pounds of him. It looked funny because Alcibiades, one of the others, weighs 20 pounds. But the more he seemed to think he was lord of all he saw, the more the name Napoleon Bonaparte seemed to fit. And it stuck, and he is Napoleon.

It became evident to us that Napoleon didn’t seem to have the aversion to water that you expect in cats. He walked right out on the dock, over 16 feet of gangplanks, the first time we took him to the river. He seemed to spend a lot of time looking curiously at the water, and trying to catch things as they floated by on the current. Next thing you knew, he jumped in my boat and investigated everything in it. I was ready to run the trotline about then, so I just untied the boat and off we went together out on the river. He seemed perfectly calm about the whole thing. I must admit I thought maybe we had acquired a mentally subnormal cat. On the way back across the river, after running the line and giving him a small catfish to eat, he stood on the front of the boat with his tail swishing around and tried to catch the paddle as it swung forward and back. Without anthropomorphizing too much, he seemed happy to be out on the boat. When we got back to the dock, he didn’t even jump out of the boat right away. Very different, for a cat. This summer I took him out when I should have known it would be too hot for him in the open boat, and about the middle of the river he started to sound pretty pitiful. I thought, oh well, and picked him up under the shoulders, back legs hanging straight down, facing away from me, not struggling, and sunk him into the river up to his ears. Before he could fuss, I set him back in the boat. He actually acted relieved! About fifteen minutes later, he got hot again and I did the same thing again, and he still didn’t struggle. Weird. He usually rides in the boat with me now whenever he and I are both at the dock at the same time.

Some people may recognize the catfish as a gafftop, more usually seen in salt water than in the Atchafalaya. But each summer I catch several of them on the trotline, and this summer I caught more of them than ever – as many as five on the trotline at one time. Not real big ones, most about the size you see here. I have done salinity testing on the river when these marine fishes are being caught and there seems to be no evidence of salt in the water.

The river is at 4.3 feet at the Butte La Rose gauge, little change over the past few days, but we should get at least a foot and a half more in the next week. The Mississippi will keep the rise going for a while, but the Ohio has lost its steam and isn’t offering much to keep the rise going.
Rise and shine, Jim

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Comfortable Drabness

Well, as I thought, cut bait isn’t the best bait to use right now. Off of the hundred hooks, only eight catfish were caught – four channel cats and four blue cats. The picture is of one of the blue cats. You can tell the difference between these two common species in several ways, the easiest is the straight edge of the anal fin (the bottom fin just in front of the tail) on the blue cat, and the rounded outline of the anal fin on the channel cat. There usually are spots on the smaller channel cats, but this isn’t consistent. The spots vary in number and size, and sometimes aren’t there at all. So, shape of the anal fin is the preferred diagnostic character.

We still have hummingbirds using the feeders. I saw the marked buff-bellied hummer this morning; the marking is the spot of temporary paint Dave put on the top of its head when we captured it. It’s the one that was banded and has returned here from way far away for three years now. The other one is an immature rufous hummer. It likes to use the feeder right outside the window where I’m writing this. I mean, it’s three feet from my elbow. This morning there is an unusually large number of honeybees trying to get at the sugarwater in the feeder. There are bee guards on all four ports on the feeder but there must be enough nectar that they can reach to keep them interested. The hummer buzzes around in what must be a disruptive way until one of the ports is free of bees and then drinks from it. I wonder what would happen if these were Africanized bees? Would they attack the bird?

We host spotted sandpipers on the Atchafalaya all year long. I think this species is the only member of this group (shorebirds) that routinely lives in the Atchafalaya Basin. Others may sometimes be seen passing through on their way to someplace where there are mudflats and such, but the spotted sp stays here in the bayous. When you flush a small shorebird (usually only one to three) as you run a boat in the Basin, and the bird flies away near the water calling “tweep…… tweep”, it’s usually a spotted sandpiper. If you get a good look at one right now, you might wonder why it’s called spotted if there are no spots, and right now there aren’t. The spots will appear only as it changes its clothes to enter the breeding season in the spring. And just as some folks who have been with partners for a long time, and the need to be flashy is over, a certain comfortable drabness sets in – kind of a low maintenance mode. Sure takes a lot less energy. And so the bird is spotted for part of the year, and kind of unremarkably brown and white the rest of the year.

The river is at 4.2 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge. And it looks like some water will be coming down in the next week or so. The Mississippi has a two-foot-plus rise from Cairo down and the Ohio is rising about 1.5 feet/day. Not a whole lot, but some change will show up down here from this.

Rise and shine, Jim

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Trotline

People ask about the trotline fishing that I do in the river. Maybe a short description for the record is in order. To begin with, the main line stretches across the river from bank to bank, and there are hooks spaced every six feet. The total number of hooks used is about 100, so that makes the line 600 feet long. When the water level is at eight feet or more, there is too much current to hold a line this long, so there are two anchors placed about 1/3 and 2/3 of the way across the river. Attached to each anchor is a heavy line that goes downstream about 200 feet and attaches to the main line. Put another way, these anchors are 200 feet upstream of the main line. This effectively divides the trotline into three segments and because of this the current places much less strain on the main line. With this arrangement, the line can be fished up to about 14 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge. Beyond that the line is too tight to be fished safely. To make sure the line stays near the bottom, there are weights on the main line about every 50 feet. The main line itself is #48 black nylon. Each hook is attached to the main line on a stageon. This is two loops of #15 black nylon joined by a #2 barrel swivel. One loop is tied to the main line and the other ties to the hook. Made up, the stageon is about 14 inches long. The hooks are 2/0 stainless steel. Commercial fishermen have found that this size hook will catch a broad range of sizes of fish, whereas smaller hooks don’t catch the larger fish, and larger hooks don’t catch the smaller ones. So, 2/0 seems about right. What I have described above is what is called a “crossing” and the rig is used to fish rivers. In lakes, in the Basin, where there is current, a different setup is used. Will get to that another time.

Today I noticed a white plastic jug floating in the river in a way that suggested it was tied to something that had drifted downstream and become hung on the trotline. I thought it was probably a jugline someone had let get away, and so it turned out. I paddled out to the jug (I don’t use a motor for fishing the trotline), unhooked the jug and hooks hanging from it and noticed something tugging on my line. I moved down the line about four hooks and there was a five pound smallmouth buffalo. This was a fortunate thing because I haven’t fished the trotline for some time and I needed to run it just to keep it clean. Now I could clean the line and I had this buffalo to bait it with. So, I filleted the fish, made 100 pieces of cut bait with it, and baited the line. The water is cold and somewhat dirty, so if I really wanted to catch a lot of fish I would use river shrimp to bait with, but this buffalo seemed to be offering itself so we’ll see what happens.

The sunset is Henderson swamp day before yesterday. How can anything artificial (manmade) be prettier than that? Incidentally, none of my pictures are ever retouched with Photoshop, or anything else.

The river is at 4.3 feet today on the Butte La Rose gauge. The Mississippi is coming up a little, and, more significantly, the Ohio is showing a rise of two feet or more at several stations. If that keeps up we could get a foot or more here in a week.

Rise and shine, Jim

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Soaring and Swimming

It was an interesting day of contrasts on the river. Event one was the appearance of 28 black vultures doing what they do when not finding food: just soaring and soaring in a long disconnected string, flying from out of the northwest. They just seem so capable of doing that, just staying in the air with no real effort. Of course I know they evolved into what they are or they would not be what they are, but still, it’s a wonderful thing so see something so well suited to its medium of locomotion – flying in this case.

Then I walked down to the dock and discovered the first pied-billed grebe to be seen “in the yard”, so to speak. It was between the dock and the bank, very near the bank. This brings the yard list total to 148 species, not bad for three acres of habitat. On seeing me, the grebe disappeared underwater so quickly it almost seemed he hadn’t been there. But he was, and he surfaced about ten yards upriver and still near the bank. When he came up, only the top of his head and his beak broke the surface, momentarily, and then he dove again. My father used to say that these “hell divers” could dive so fast that you couldn’t kill them with a shotgun – they could dive before the shot reached them. I must admit having tried to do this several times as a boy and they beat the shot every time. They seem so adapted to the water that they actually prefer to escape danger by swimming. I have seen hundreds of these little guys, but I have never seen one fly, although they do of course. This bird kept diving and surfacing until he was a long way up the river.

To cap the day, a string of 31 turkey vultures came out of the north just as the blacks had done this morning. I can only think of their progress across the sky as lazy. Such competence, with a belly full of carrion and a view of the earth from a thousand feet up, buzzards having a good day.

So the ultimate swimmer and the graceful gliders, two adaptations for doing well in different environments, nice contrasts.

The picture is a fish that floated down, dead, and lodged against the raft. It is a shovelnose sturgeon and is fairly common in the river. An endangered species, the pallid sturgeon, is very similar to this fish and also lives in the Atchafalaya. Even biologists sometimes have trouble telling them apart.

The river is at 4.0 feet now as a result of the rain upriver and a small rise from the Mississippi. Still, nothing coming down to give us a good rise.

So, rise and shine. Jim

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Different Thing

Sometimes it’s good to do something that is totally different from our day-to-day way of living. Today I had a chance to do something like that. Gene was hosting a crew of people who wanted to use the Atchafalaya Basin as a backdrop for photographing pretty young people modeling “high fashion” clothing. The pictures were to appear in a spring season catalogue for a clothing company I had never heard of, but apparently a lot of young people had. There were three women models and two men, supported by eight people who did makeup, hair, provided logistical support and some who just helped the photographer with her gear and light settings. We all loaded into three boats and proceeded out into the Henderson Swamp. It is always interesting to me to watch people react to the swamp from a perspective of un-aquaintance. They knew very little about the ecology, and really didn’t know enough to ask serious questions. But you do hear “Where are the alligators?”, and “Are there fish here?” and things like that so that even with these people there is some connection with nature. We were out all afternoon in 50 degree weather with the wind blowing. Since the clothing catalogue was to feature spring fashions, the clothes were very light and sometimes skimpy. The models had to pose in the cold air and try to keep from shivering, which they actually succeeded in doing most of the time. Amazing. As I say, we see catalogues every day but not very often do we see how the pictures got there. The price of the clothes has to pay for everything it takes to market them, including the catalogues, etc. I saw some of the older catalogues and the clothes are like, jeans for $225, and little blouses for $156, and tiny sandals for $148. You sure don’t buy this stuff if you work for the state. When this crew did the winter catalogue for this year, they went to Morocco in October. So I guess our Atchafalaya country ranks pretty high as scenery. It was a good day and the people were all very pleasant – New York is home for most of them.

The young lady is Ashley, one of the makeup people on “the shoot”. She caught a cricket frog in the cold water and asked about frogs in general, and so earned the frog pin that she is wearing. She is now an honorary member of our amphibian awareness group, and has the pin to prove it.

The river is at 3.7 on the Butte La Rose gauge today, and will stay about that for several days. Nothing happening on the Ohio or Mississippi so not much will happen here either for a while.

Rise and shine, Jim

Saturday, January 14, 2006


This morning one of the biggest flocks of these birds I have ever seen came down the river. They didn’t all come at once, but flew by just above the water in a long ragged string that seemed to go on forever. All in all, there must have been at least 500 of them, both the double-crested and neotropical kind. When you see this many of these fish-eating birds you get kind of a sympathetic feeling for the fish farmers that have to see their fish eaten by so many cormorants. With this flock alone, if each one ate one one-pound catfish a day and they did this day after day in the same pond, it wouldn’t take long to clean out the whole pond. In some instances the farmers have been able to get a nuisance-bird declaration and then they can take measures to discourage the birds. Some measures being more drastic than others. It reminds me of the huge flocks of ibises sometimes seen on crawfish ponds. One flock I saw was estimated at 3000. Again, if each eats one pound of crawfish a day, and they return day after day….

Speaking of cormorants, the other day I saw one catch a garfish that was about 14 inches long. It had the garfish crossways in its beak, and the garfish was doing some very lively thrashing around. I thought that there was no way that fish could be swallowed by that bird, but the bird tossed the fish into the air and caught it head down. A couple of gulps and a pump of the neck and the fish disappeared. Just like watching a snake eat a large rat, never bet on the prey item, even though it looks way too big.

As I mentioned yesterday, the moon is full tonight. Brad and I watched it rise over the swamp just after sunset. The picture has kind of a January mood, I think.

The river is about the same as yesterday at around 3 feet, steady for now. Still no water up-country to make a difference. It will come.

Rise and shine, Jim

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bright Moon

The cold front last night came howling through and the wind stayed howling all day today. Not often you see whitecaps on the river, but they were there today.

Nice moon tonight, almost full. Tomorrow it will be full. Watching the full moon rise over the river is kind of awesome – even more so during spring when you can set up a spotting scope and focus it on the full moon while you lay back on a lounge and watch the show. The show is the night migration of birds flying back from South America, Mexico, etc. You can actually see the flocks in the scope as they cross the moon, and by taking one of the craters as a standard, you can come up with some approximation of the size of the birds – and therefore place them into categories of a sort. If you know enough about the flight pattern of different types of birds, you can identify groups in that way too. You can identify larger birds like herons and hawks, and flocks of smaller ones like shorebirds, not the individuals of course, but the general types. This is fun and keeps you off the street, I guess. I like it.

Talked to a crawfish buyer today and she told me the ponds are suffering from the low water table. Too bad, the warm weather would have been good for the crawfish growth rate. She told me that she sells pogies (menhaden) individually frozen and shad frozen in a big block. The pogies might be good cut bait for the trotline in this clear river water, if they stay firm after defrosting.

The river is at 3.1 feet at the Butte La Rose gauge today, and it’s rising slowly. Good thing, because if it wasn’t, the north winds of today would have blown all the water out. The Mississippi is rising a little, but the Ohio is falling so no good rises for a while yet.

Rise and shine, Jim

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Eagles and Alligators

I grew up in the Atchafalaya Basin when there were no eagles and virtually no alligators (or beavers, come to think of it). A lot has changed in 47 years – since I was 20. I am reminded of this today because this morning I attended a meeting to plan the first annual Eagle Expo in Morgan City. There are now so many eagles nesting in Louisiana, apparently successfully, that a small festival can be held to celebrate them. What a wonderful way to note the passage of time, to see a species return to its original range. On the way to the meeting I saw an adult eagle at Lake Fausse Point (also the site of the most recent noting of a cougar two years ago, another returning species?) And I have seen eagles three times over the river at Butte La Rose since November. One of these times one of them pestered an osprey so much that the osprey handed its fish to the eagle, which accepted the fish and flew away over the swamp. The osprey followed a little, but soon gave up. Our national emblem, a bully and a thief.

Alligators are back too. Last year one took to sunning on the raft connected to my dock. It’s only about four feet long so I don’t worry about the cats too much. But I guess the cats better worry a little. This year two ten-footers were caught under the I-10 bridge, and that’s only about a mile away. My grandkids have reservations about swimming in the river, but we do it anyway. On warm summer nights you can travel on the river and see A LOT of alligators along the banks, and they keep me company around the boat when I run my trotline at night. Yep, there were none and now they’re back. It’s good to see.

The frog is a female green treefrog that lives on the dock in a five gallon bucket. Cheap digital cameras can sure do wonderful things!

The river is still very low. It’s 2.8 today at the Butte La Rose gauge. The tide moves it up and down six to eight inches these days. The Mississippi is rising a little, but the Ohio is falling. So, still no water.

Rise and shine, Jim

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Good Life

How about that? A couple fishing rods, a little birdwatching and a good cup of coffee. Not a bad way to spend part of a day, I guess.

I was watching some cardinals late this afternoon. They seem to do the same thing in the late afternoon every day. Between sunset and darkness, they congregate at the very tops of the tallest willow trees along our bank and just kind of sit there for several minutes. One by one or a few at a time they take off and fly across the river and disappear into the trees over there. I assume they are roosting in the dense woods. Yesterday about 28 of them did that.

Heard the first chorus frogs of the season last night. Still not enough rain to put water in the ditches though.

The river is at 3.3 feet and rising slowly, but there still isn’t anything up north that would give us a healthy rise any time soon. Curiously, last year about this time we had more than 19 feet. This sort of explains why you can’t describe a “normal” year for water, it just varies too much. About all we can expect is higher water in the spring than in the fall, but how much?

Rise and shine, Jim

Monday, January 09, 2006

Rufous Hummingbird

What odd weather. It’s not that it’s not nice, it is, but somehow it doesn’t seem right to have April weather in January. The goldfinches are wondering why they are down here when they could be back up north where they could be getting ready to nest. Real mistake that would be.

The picture is the river from our dock, during high water last year. The gold late afternoon color is a favorite.

Outside the window the most beautiful rufous hummingbird is feeding on the nectar feeder. He is a full grown male and is so orange he looks like a Christmas tree ornament out there on the hawthorn bush. There is also an immature rufous and a buff-bellied hummer female - the same one mentioned earlier. Crowds of cardinals, chickadees, titmice and goldfinches are eating the black oil sunflower seeds.

The river is at 2.3 on the Butte La Rose gauge. It came up some after the north wind stopped. The Ohio still isn’t doing much and the Mississippi isn’t either. Still, it’s pretty out there.

Rise and shine, Jim

Friday, January 06, 2006

Shrimp Study

Ray Bauer (ULL) is doing a study on the river shrimp, Macrobrachium ohione, and one of his sampling locations is here on our dock. He just made a collection tonight. I do go down to the river with him to help even though he doesn’t need it. It was 38 degrees tonight, cold with your hands wet. Reminds me of the ten years I spent commercial fishing in the Basin using trotlines. Cold wet hands, running in an open boat, cuts hurting all the time – makes you appreciate life in an office, almost. Ray got about 50 shrimp out of my traps tonight and I guess that’s enough to note their reproductive stage, although the same four traps would give about ten times that in warmer seasons. Amazing that so little is known about an animal that is so abundant, and so much a basic organism in the food chain. So, Ray to the rescue!

Spent the day in the Basin today (sounds funny to say that, realizing that we live there). One of our friends died two weeks ago and Gene Seneca and I went to his camp on Grand River to collect some hundred-year old lumber that Lee had not used. Some of it will find its way into the 301-year old birdhouses that I make. Working on number 102 right now, the previous 101 having been given away to interested friends. My motor was running rough, my fault for using old gasoline, I think.

River stage is 1.3 feet at the Butte La Rose gauge. That is LOW WATER. What little water there was got pushed out yesterday by the strong north wind. The Mississippi is rising very slowly and it won’t help much in the foreseeable future. We could see about another foot in the Atchafalaya in the next five days, but that’s all. We need a snow pack in Ohio and Pennsylvania to get us some water in March, so far that’s not happening.

Rise and shine, Jim