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.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Birthday Present

This will be just a short note to send notice of my birthday present to whoever cares. On Thursday morning, November 4, I walked down to the river onto our deck, down the 22 steps to the walkway and out to the floating dock. The sunrise that morning is pictured here. It was glorious, as is often true when there are clouds on the horizon at daybreak. If you can be on the river at that time you can take a special pleasure in just drawing a real deep breath, holding it for a moment and letting it go. Almost like you can breathe in the strength you need to go out into the day, and breathe out any residual drag from the day before.

Standing there looking out over the sunrise reflection on the water, there is a sound like a baby chicken, almost. We see ospreys here often enough to know what that sound is. Sure enough, there about 50 yards across the river is an osprey in the middle of a plunge toward the water. It hits the water and up it comes with a large shad in its claws. It shakes the water off, rearranges the fish to point head first forward, and flies a few yards upriver before a bald eagle appears and challenges the osprey. There is not much of a contest. The osprey drops the fish and moves away, while the eagle retrieves the fish from the water and flies off with it. It lands on a tree across the river, presumably to eat the fish, and the osprey dives on it – forcing the eagle to fly off into the swamp with the fish. The osprey doesn’t press ownership any further and both birds disappear from sight.

What a birthday present. There are still some things that you can’t get on the Internet. This is one of them, I believe.

The river is at 3.5 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge. The Ohio and Mississippi are both in their fall low periods. As I look out at the water in the river it is hardly moving, and it has that greenish cast that we call “clear” and my west coast friends wonder how we can say that.

Rise and Shine,