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, July 08, 2006

Tar and Traps

Sunrise this morning and a corona. A new technique was suggested by a friend who took a picture using his digital camera and his binoculars, and it looked good. So, I thought, why not try it on the sunrise. This is what it looked like. I don’t know why the sun has a yellow corona in the image, but it is interesting.

The alligator is still melting. It’s just about all underwater so there really isn’t much odor any more. Today there was a little blue heron on the bank next to the gator. It was picking things off of the surface of the water. Closer inspection revealed that it was capturing fly larvae as they swam from the carcass to the shore. No larvae would swim away toward the river, just toward the shore. I imagine the larvae need a dry place to pupate and somehow they knew where the bank was. How do they know that? This picture was also taken using the camera held up to the binoculars.

I retarred the four shrimp traps I made last summer and put them back into the water today. They lasted the whole year but began to rust lately so they had to be treated to another coat of tar. It took seven gallons of gasoline to thin the tar adequately before it could be applied to the traps. Used to be that wasn’t much, but at almost $3.00/gallon, it adds up. A friend was watching me dip the traps in the tar vat and commented that it sure looked like a real ugly, messy job. It is messy, you get tar all over your clothes and hands, but it’s one of the things you have to do to get shrimp to bait the trotline with. I mentioned to him that people come here and look at fish coming up on the trotline and they don’t realize what it takes to have that line baited and fishing – all kinds of small jobs that people don’t think of. The line has to be put in the river, and stageons have to be made and put on the line, and weights have to be gotten from somewhere, and there has to be a boat of some kind, and propulsion of some kind. You have to tie floats to the line to keep it off of the bottom in low water so the crabs don’t eat all your bait. And then you have to get that bait; either shrimp or cutbait. So you either need traps or a castnet, and you have to know how to use both. That’s just a few of the things it takes to maintain a trotline if you’re serious about it. I think all of those things are fun to do, but they sometimes look messy or perhaps unpleasant. By the way, I was needing to clean some turkey bones and I put them in one of the traps to let the shrimp do it. They will, too.

I used the same technique on the sunset this afternoon. Also interesting, and I never noticed that a bird flew into the scene until after I had the pictures on the computer. I think of it as sort of a gift from the sunset.

The river is at 3.0 on the Butte La Rose gauge and will rise a little to 3.3 by Monday. After this little rise the Mississippi is falling up above, but the Ohio has a small rise in its upper reaches.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger CarolynF said...

Awesome sunrise and sunset! I will have to experiment with the camera and binoculars.

July 09, 2006 8:41 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Yes, they sure are spectacular. I am still stunned by the bird in the sunset. What a surprise that was! Thanks for the comment Carolyn.


July 10, 2006 8:39 AM  

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