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.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Old (very) Boat

Some of the animals that are passing through the BLR area today are noted in the pictures. Last night there were at least three barred owls calling back and forth to each other in our front yard, right in front of the front porch. I’m always impressed with how unafraid those birds are of humans. Last night they were doing the “you cook today, I’ll cook tomorrow” thing, and sometimes the “hoo – aah” thing. The latter sounding like some Marines had climbed the trees. This morning I walked down to the river and heard some chickadees scolding something in a tree just off of the walkway. It didn’t take too long to see that it was a barred owl, just sitting on a branch about 30 feet away and looking disinterestedly at me, and sometimes turning and glancing at the scolding birds. How these big birds have survived the Cajun pastime of shoot first and see if you can eat it later, I don’t know. I did shoot this owl, with my new Canon camera. I’m still testing it but it seems to be at least as good as the old camera that I wore out.

After the owl, the butterfly was waiting for me down at the river on the muddy bank. And then, in one of the shrimp traps was this young crab, asking to be featured in a blog. The crab is proof that bluepoint crabs are up the river as far as Butte La Rose this year. Some people are fishing them with commercial traps and are doing pretty well I hear. I must admit that I never noticed young male crabs had red-tipped claws, but they do because this one does. I thought it was only the females that had claws like that. Live and learn. The double picture is there and that’s all there is to it, if I try to erase one of them, all the pictures disappear. So, they stay like that.

Last Friday my friend Chip asked me to go with him to see an old boat that had been found on Grand Isle. I mean an old boat. Chip is an archaeologist and is guessing that the boat is about 600 years old. It is a dugout canoe made by Native Americans who lived in the marshes along the Gulf Coast. It is about 20 feet long and two feet wide. The story on how these early pre-metal marsh dwellers managed to hollow out a large tree and come up with a boat like this is really something. According to the experts, the Indians used fire to shape the whole boat. They built a fire on the top of the log and when the fire had made char scars deep enough, they scraped the charred wood off with a shell or something, and then built more fires where they needed them. I mean, that was a lot of work! Think about it! This boat is 20 feet long! We really enjoyed the day, and found out that Grand Isle is recovering from the storms, but there are reminders of the damage everywhere you look.

The river is at 2.4 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, rising to 2.8 by Wednesday. The Ohio and Mississippi are falling pretty hard, and we might see even lower water soon. This would actually be OK because there are some old boats sunk in the Basin that you can’t see unless the water is 1.8 or lower, and we are waiting for that to happen.

Rise and shine, Jim


Blogger CarolynF said...

Love the owl. We actually had a snowy owl (or snow owl-I'm not sure which is correct)to blow in here one winter. What a treat!

August 08, 2006 11:31 AM  
Blogger Ross said...


That is a beautiful picture of a red-spotted purple butterfly. I have yet to see one out my way. I would suggest visiting this website: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/faq/report. You can find information on how to report a new county record. I looked at the distribution map and did not find your parish having a record of the red-spotted purple. If I ever get a camera, I hope to be able to document the 12 butterfly species and 2 moth species that I have observed in the neighborhood in the one year that I have lived there.

August 08, 2006 4:41 PM  
Blogger jim said...

That must have been a special moment, that snowy owl! One day I'd like to see one, but i don't expect it to be in Louisiana. Thanks for the kind words about the owl. Jim

August 09, 2006 5:30 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Ross, thanks for the ID. It is indeed a red-spotted purple butterfly. And thanks for the website reference, I'll probably leave it to someone else to report a range extension (you?) if one is justified. Jim

August 09, 2006 5:32 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...


So glad to find you blog! We met long ago. I'm Dennis Skerrett, grandson to BEM Skerrett III. I used to come to meetings with him semi-regularly, especially pertaining to the Buffalo Cove Management Area.

-Enjoyed your blog immensely! The comment about bird calls reminded me of what my granddaddy used to say every time he heard an owl in the distance: "We cook for OUR selves, who cooks for YOU all?" And they almost always answered!

I would love to know more about Bayou Chene. I remember Carl talking about it a little, and I've read a little about it. Are you planning to publish your chronicles?


August 13, 2008 11:04 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Dennis, we all were saddened by Ben's passing. He was a really good guy. That owl is such an icon for the Basin. Thanks for the kind words about Riverlogue. It's fun to write it, though I have little time to do that right now. Bayou Chene is one of those mystical/factual places that is so interesting to know about. The only two books that I know about are the one Gladys Calhoun Case and the one by the COE. Let me know if you need further references to either. Thanks again, Jim

August 14, 2008 9:11 AM  

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