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.

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


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