November 15, 2013 – Terrace Birds and Marsh Grass

Dredge and Rainey Report
Pumphouse and another small dredge

November 15, 2013

Summary of accomplishments:

  • No dredging
  • New winch for dredge
  • Birding on Christian Marsh terraces
  • Marsh grass spreading at the marsh creation site

This report can be downloaded in PDF file format by clicking the download button. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I left Baton Rouge after picking up supplies and the boat, and stopped by Grainger’s in Lafayette to pick up a replacement traveling winch for the dredge. I stopped again in Abbeville at Stine’s for a small apartment refrigerator and pipe insulation which were tied securely into the boat.

After one more stop at the Sportsman for boat oil, I launched the boat into very low water at 2:00. The water was so low, that the boat motor was dredging up mud just trying to get away from the boat ramp. There was no way I could cross the Bay or get through the terraces, and had to go the long way around thru Freshwater Bayou to Belle Island Bayou. My safe driving instincts came into play as a boat came out right in front of me from one of the cross channels. I made it safely to the Rainey headquarters at 2:30.

Louisiana fall colors were in full show, and the backyard pond (Belle Isle Lake) was busy with waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds.

Figure 1. The backyard pond (Belle Isle Lake) was well populated with Mallards, Gadwall, teal and an occasional Pintail.

Figure 2. Black-necked Stilts cross the lake along the near shore.

Figure 3. Fall colors frame the mud flats exposed by low water, contrasting with the bright white egrets.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

We were up early for a very cold (40°F) tour of the Christian Marsh terraces. We discovered the open water covered with American Coot and other waterfowl, and the terraces flitting with sparrows and wrens. The sky was crossed frequently by ducks of all kinds, and the mystical call of Snow Geese could be heard as they passed high overhead.

Figure 4. The terraces were busy with small birds, flitting through the grass or hopping along the open ridge.

Figure 5. Large rafts of American Coot were in every open water area.

Figure 6. The mystical sound of Snow Geese on a cold, fall morning is a very special experience.

Figure 7. The best form of transportation in the shallow Christian Marsh waterways is a "mudboat."

After our morning exploration, Timmy brought the 4-Wheeler and trailer around to unload my boat and transfer the goods to the apartment. The refrigerator was unpacked and set up in the guesthouse kitchenette.

We spent the rest of the day replacing or fixing the Rainey boundary signs along McIlhenny Canal and the West Chenier Canal. Fall colors were at their peak along all of the waterways.

Figure 8. Fall colors along the West Chenier Canal surrounded us as Timmy worked on our boundary signs.

Figure 9. The Rainey headquarters in fall, viewed from the south approach.

Friday, November 15, 2013

While Timmy mowed and took care of Sanctuary duties, I worked in the guesthouse to put up towel rack and install some of pipe insulation under the building.

When that was done, we headed to the dredge. Timmy put a new hydraulic hose on the dredge and killed wasps, and I brought diesel and added diesel treatment to tank. I had not been to the marsh creation site for a while, so we went ashore when onboard tasks were done to inspect changes and take pictures. Even though the tops of the grass were going dormant and turning a nice golden brown, the roots were still active, sending out numerous tillers and new growth.

Figure 10. Once again there were wasps hiding from the cold in any crevice.

Figure 11. The marsh creation site was drained but wet, creating a perfect substrate for spreading roots.

Figure 12. A flock of Greater Yellowlegs was enjoying Cell 4.

Figure 13. Even thought the tops of the grass were going dormant, the roots were actively sending new shoots into the wet substrate.

Figure 14. The estimated status of the marsh creation study site as of November 15, 2013.

Before I packed up and left for home, we walked the headquarters trail. There weren’t any unusual birds to report, but we found more wasps searching for any crevice to hide from the coming cold. I left at 3:30 to head back to Baton Rouge.

Figure 15. Wasps looking for crevices in bark or dead trees to hide from the coming cold weather.

 

 

Karen A Westphal and Timmy J Vincent, National Audubon Society
Audubon Louisiana and the Paul J Rainey Wildlife Refuge
6160 Perkins Road, Suite 215, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
225-768-0921x202 office, kwestphal@audubon.org

 

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