Riverlogue

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.

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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, February 13, 2006

An Ordinary Day


That’s what today was, kind of. The trotline needed cleaning so I ran the shrimp traps and got probably 250 shrimp. I cleaned the line and baited it. It had buried itself in the bottom in two places. If you have never experienced this, it feels a lot like the line is hung up on something. But, if you put a strain on it and tie it off on your boat, and just sit there for a while, it gradually begins to emerge from the sand and pretty soon the whole line comes up. This reminds me of how a starfish opens a clam – just create constant low pressure and what you can’t do by direct force you can do over time. It works. After I baited the line I came back to the middle of it (where I have a buoy to mark the middle) and ran the first half back to the dock and there were three fish on it already. A good sign, I think. We need some fish for the freezer so I’ll be glad to see what is on the line tomorrow.

A few days ago I got some old cypress lumber from a house that was torn down by Gene Seneca. As usual, it was full of nails and had to be cleaned and the ends squared, and the split pieces ripped into usable lengths. It’s fun to think of the stories the old wood might tell. There were no square nails in this wood, but it still could be over a hundred years old because wire (round) nails were in common use by 1900 – so the books say. One board, 11 feet by 13 inches by 2 inches, will be used for a bench down at the deck. It gives the feeling of solidity.

This afternoon I heard a red-shouldered hawk calling from the yard. It sounded pretty close but I couldn’t find it, and I spent some time trying. I thought it sounded kind of strange, sort of between a red-shouldered and a red-tailed – the difference between them being how long the “keeuurrr” is. Short for a red-shouldered and long for the other. The only bird I saw in the vicinity was a blue jay. Tonight I was looking at red-shouldered hawks in Sibley (Guide to Birds), and wow, he says blue jays often mimic red-shouldered hawks and other raptors. It’s fun when something you see and wonder about is explained later like that. I guess the blue jay didn’t quite have the hawk call down because it sounded like a medium length call, or sort of between the calls of the two hawks. But there it was, a mystery explained.

Napoleon spent time today wishing he could make windows disappear. He just never understands that he can’t reach the birds on the feeder outside my office window. He makes that sort of shuddering, trembling thing with his mouth, and swishes his tail like crazy.

The river is at 8.7 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge today, and the current has noticeably lessened. The Mississippi and Ohio are both falling so we might have to wait for the snow to melt to send some Ohio water down.

Rise and shine, Jim

1 Comments:

Blogger JZ said...

Yes...Blue Jays are excellent raptor mimics. They often are indeed heard imitating Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks. An interesting observation I made in southeastern AZ a few years back (1999), was a Steller's Jay imitating a Red-tailed Hawk (no Red-shoulders in those neck of the woods...).

JZ

March 24, 2006 12:13 PM  

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