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, September 25, 2007


There was something odd about this afternoon. Walking down to the river, a distance of about 200 feet, you could feel that something was different. It was one of those things that hangs out there on the edge of awareness and doesn’t let you know it’s there until it taps you on the shoulder. You turn, then, and it looks at you. What was it? Usually when you are anywhere around the river any number of things call to you for attention. There is this and there is that. But not this afternoon. Nothing seemed to say “Here I am”. There was nothing to hear, nothing moving.

It was so quiet, and still. Almost always, any number of things make a mark on the evening with a sound or a movement. The water laps on the dock, the result of a boat that passed not long ago. The wind hisses through the leaves, and the leaves themselves make small tapping sounds as they fall from the trees and blanket the deck. There are always crows in the early evening across the river, making conversation about the day and the coming night. Egrets, ibises and herons move from the weedy flats at Henderson Lake, always flying east to roost deeper in the swamp. Dimples on the water are proof of gars, and buffaloes. Mockingbirds and wrens end the day with announcements or scoldings depending on their mood. And the traffic on the distant highway creates a steady background, rising and falling with the wind direction. And, dogs both near and not so near talk about things that smell good, or strange.

But none of these things happened tonight. Only a faint humming of traffic, and that was all. The contrast was stark, nothing moving, nothing. It was like a great being was out there needing privacy, saying “Leave me alone, I am resting”.

The river is at 3.6 on the Butte La Rose gauge, falling to 2.2 by the end of the week. The Ohio and Mississippi are both falling. Looks like we will have true low water for awhile.

Rise and Shine, Jim

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


This year there are more gray treefrogs than we usually see. They are in unusual place too. This one was finding water in the top of a 5-gallon plastic can. And they are finding shelter in the birdhouses stationed around the yard. Grandaughter Elena found eight of them in one box yesterday and promptly evicted them one by one. An hour later they were all back inside the boxes.

The river is at 4.2 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, rising to 5.2 feet in the next four days. The Ohio and Mississippi are both falling again so there’s not much more water coming down.

Rise and Shine, Jim