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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pileated Plus

I need to get a couple notes in here before I forget them. The eagle was back, sitting in the same tree that it went to after the osprey heist yesterday. This is the first time I have seen an eagle here two days in a row. Maybe this one is going to set up shop here because of the easy meals.

I got to watch an adult female pileated woodpecker feed for about 30 minutes, at close range. You could actually see it listening, or seeming to, before it tore into the dead tree it was feeding on. It would turn its head sideways and pause and then hammer at a certain spot. It would stop and pause again in the same pose, and hammer again. If it was a human, it would have been listening. I understand they can actually hear beetles moving inside the tree. Sure enough, when it left I went and examined the tree and each two or three inch-deep hole ended in an insect tunnel. These tunnels were about a half inch in diameter - pretty big grubs or beetles or whatever. The woodpecker also seemed to flick its tongue at the tree trunk over and over, as though it might be picking up something small off of the surface of the tree, but when I looked I couldn’t see any small insects or anything else that looked edible.

A big tug went by pushing three very big “rock” barges. It’s unusual to see that kind of traffic on this river, almost all of it goes through Whiskey Bay because that’s what it’s there for. This particular tow was here because there is a rock yard (remember when they were shell yards?) up near I10.

Several times a year you see a big buoy that has gone adrift and comes down the river. This is one that passed by in the current today. The iris is blooming now in the yard, it was a gift last year from friends who live on Bayou Manchac.

And grosbecs are calling in the early evening. Memories of them fifty years ago, and rice, and gravy, and some French bread and real butter – so they tell me, anyway.

The river is at 11.5 on the Butte La Rose gauge, falling to 9.4 by Sunday. The Ohio and Mississippi, the mother and father of waters, are relaxing in their beds and show no inclination to exert themselves as yet.

Rise and Shine, Jim


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