Thursday, April 26
The dawn held a surprise as a jet streaked up almost vertically faster than any jet we normally see. We thought it was a missile or rocket at first, but binoculars (and enlarging one of my photos) revealed it to apparently be a military type of aircraft. Interesting.
Timmy left at 7:30 to pick up high-schoolers for a day planting beach plants at the chenier, leaving Karen on her own for the day. The boat load of teenagers dropped off 10 gallons of diesel for me on their way past the Rainey headquarters.
I collected scrap wood from around the new house construction and the tools I might need to take along. My first self-assigned task was to make a step for the boardwalk entry. I was tired of jumping up and down off the end, and wanted it to be more comfortable for the expected visitors next week. The constant breeze kept most of the mosquitoes away while I worked, except for when I had to sit on the ground to build the support.
With that completed, I took the pirogue out into the pond. The water level was at 6” below marsh level (-6” ML), which had exposed the entire expanse of Cell 4 which was now covered with mudcracks as the top layer dried and condensed. The lowest part of Cell 4 was revealed to be -1” ML. Backflow of muddy water across containment 5b into Cell 5 had raised the adjacent low area up to marsh level, and it too was covered in mudcracks.
I paddled to the west end of Cell 4 to check on containment 4c. A Sora walked out on the mudflat in front of me to feed and ignored me in the pirogue until I stood up to walk across the marsh. Then it took off running like a little chicken across the mudflat to the other side. It had a cute knock-kneed waddle with its big feet flashing around each other.
I was happy to see that the mud was fairly level along containment 4c and that there were no deposits visible on the outside of the containment even with the low water conditions. We know we are losing some material here, but with no “blow-outs” evident, are fairly certain it is filtered through the marsh on either side or over the lowest section at high water.
With the water level so low, I wanted to wait just a little longer before dredging to see if the tide would come in. We don’t want to flush fill or lose too much material if the difference in water level promotes run-off rather than fill.
I spent the next hour and a half completing the reed part of the containment between Cell 1 & 2, from the marsh at Cell 4 to the marsh island to the north. By lunchtime I had finished the reed containment for 2b.
Timmy had to pull the anchor rope up for the Frogco excavating machines to pass on their way to Coles Bayou last week. Before I could dredge I had to reattach the anchor to the traveling winch. One of our tarps had blown off the dredge and we had thrown it into the bushes to dry, so I collected that as well.
Finally, with the miscellaneous tasks complete, I settled down to dredge for 2 hours. The Eastern Kingbirds are back in numbers and have established territories and started building nests. Orchard Orioles are busy too. Barn swallows are still flitting around trying to find appropriate covered sites for their stick-tight nests. I watched as an alligator eased along the edge of the canal, and a barn swallow on one of our border poles kept an uneasy eye on it.
Another trip to the pond at 3:00 showed that the two hours of mud put a veneer of fluid mud on top of the mudcracks. The lowest areas remain near exits at containment 4c and the west corner of 4b where it drops to -1” ML. Escaping mud appeared to accumulate in Cell 2, and mud plumes reached all the way past the dock in Cells 2 & 3. It was obvious that any additional dredging would not stay in Cell 4. We need to move the outfall for another delta of heavy material to help stop up the exiting flows. With the pontoon sitting tall on the dredge fill, I could not budge it by hand. I would have to wait for Timmy and the airboat.
I headed back to the Rainey headquarters, and found Timmy loading the flat for a bit of property maintenance. He took the weed-eater to the dredge landing, the area across the camp, and around the perimeter of the camp. He finished around 6:30.