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 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


Blogger JZ said...

I would love to experience a heavy rainfall on your boat on a warm day! It must be truly pacifying.


March 24, 2006 11:07 AM  

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