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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Easy Rider and Hummingbirds

Short notes this time. Yes, yesterday and today a lot of river-related things make impressions on the memory. Each is worthy of its own posting, but if I don’t do these now I’ll probably forget them.

The hooded warblers have come from Mexico (or maybe Cuba) and have landed here as of yesterday. Last week’s strong southeast winds would have helped them get here, the strong north winds of the last two days definitely would not. Their calls are distinct and loud and come from across the river early in the morning. I shouldn’t confuse the song with Swainson’s warbler but I do, and have to be careful in deciding which is which. Luckily, both can be heard here at the same time, sometimes, and you can easily tell the difference then.

The pair of ospreys have been cruising the river for the past two days. One carried a fish yesterday with no hassles from the other one. Maybe these two are reproductively associated with less conflict resulting. I believe I like this picture because it has a not-quite-real feeling to it.

Had to remove the big tube feeders and put up smaller ones for the rest of this season. With the goldfinches gone, and the abundance of natural foods for the resident population of other seed-eaters, smaller feeders are in order.

The rufous and the buff-bellied hummingbirds are gone. Just think of them heading west, making stops in San Antonio, Albuquerque, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Portland before reaching a suitable summer home! Makes me want to “Head out on the highway - Lookin for adventure - And whatever comes our way”. Steppenwolf, Easy Rider and hummers, think about it.

What we have now is a very excitable group of sexed-up male ruby throats. They seem to be about as intensely colored right now as they ever get. And each feeder has been adopted by a single male who seems to hate anything that moves fast and is about his size. When the ladies arrive these aggressive guys will collect as many as they can within their territory and breed as often and in as nondiscriminatory a way as their energy permits.

The river is coming up, fast. I had to retie the dock four times in the last two days. That involves adjusting 11 ropes each time, and moving the shrimp traps. As usual, during a rise, there is a lot of drift now. Not too much really big stuff yet because the water did get to 11 feet late this winter and so the banks got washed at least that high up already.

The 14 yellow-crowned night herons show just about every stage of wing beat possible, from full downstroke to the top of the upstroke. This morning they just cruised down the river like this. What? You can't tell they're herons?

The river is at 8.2 right now, about the limit for the trotline with no anchors, but it should be ok to about 14 feet with the two anchors I have, provided the anchor bridles aren’t buried in the sand (effectively shortening them). The rise should be at 10.7 feet by Sunday and then slow down. The Mississippi is still coming up but the Ohio is flat to falling and so will we be by next week. Too bad for crawfish.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger Brigette said...


I am truly enjoying your stories! Thank you so much for sharing. Your postings are such good reminders of why I got into the work that I do. And with all the paperwork that comes with my job, I really do appreciate a good reminder of why my job has some meaning to the natural world.


March 24, 2006 8:28 AM  

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