November 2014 – Dredge Maintenance and Waterfowl

Dredge and Rainey Report
Dredge Maintenance and Waterfowl

November 2014

Summary of accomplishments:

  • No dredging
  • Dredge Maintenance – spuds and pump painted
  • 4-wheeler repair

The small dredge has been idle since August of last year (2013). We stopped dredging after filling Cell 3 and completing an acre so that the LSU graduate could conduct monitoring research unimpeded. After being exposed to the elements for 5 years, the dredge needs critical maintenance. On September 3, we pulled the dredge to the Rainey headquarters to make work on it more convenient. Weather, Rainey tours, Audubon meetings and office obligations have limited the amount of time available to work on the dredge, so upgrades have been slow.

November 11-13, 2014

It was a usual warm day in November for Louisiana, around 76°, when I made my run south. I stopped by Walmart in Abbeville for supplies, met Timmy at Lowe’s to look at cabinets for the headquarters, and stopped by Tractor Supply. I followed Timmy to Coastal Storage to help load the red 4-wheeler that wouldn’t start. Timmy plans to get it running to replace the green one that has a busted frame. Once the 4-wheeler was in the truck, I followed him to boatshed to unload it from the truck and onto the Goose. I moved my car to the parking lot at Maxie’s, met Timmy there, and we went to fuel up before heading out to headquarters.

At the headquarter’s boat ramp, the red 4-wheeler was pushed down the ramp from the Goose, and I used the yellow 4-wheeler to tow Timmy on the red one into the shop/garage. He worked on it while I worked on the dredge. The conversations of a few flocks of mallards, gadwall and teal in the backyard pond kept us company.

Figure 1. Mallards, Gadwall and teal (and Great Blue Heron) in the backyard pond

On the dredge, I pulled the spuds back so the unpainted ends were hanging over the water. I dragged the pirogue over into the boatshed, maneuvered it into the water, and tied it to the dock and the dredge to wire-brush the spuds. I have found Ospho a wonderful substance for treating rust, and coated the cleaned spuds with it. I had to crank up the Crucial engine that runs the hydraulic winch to lay the pump on its side where I could reach the pump’s bottom. With hammer, wire brush, screwdrivers, scrapers and whatever else I could use, I chipped and wire-brushed the heavy rust off the pump and cleaned all the jets out, and liberally coated it with Ospho. Timmy got the red-ATV working and ran it around the yard.

Figure 2. I had to use the pirogue to work on the bottom of the spuds.

Figure 3. Once the pump was on its side, I could reach the bottom to knock off as much rust as possible.

I couldn’t do anymore on the pump until the Ospho cured, and Timmy was done with the 4-wheeler. We took a late afternoon run down the Bayou to make sure that Vermilion Corp had moved their crab traps out of the middle of the channel – we are expecting it to be really low water soon, and wanted to make sure we had an exit if necessary. As we came around the bend at Pete’s camp, we were surprised by hundreds of egrets/herons congregated around the water control structure. At the Deep Lake canal, Timmy spotted two adult bald eagles.

Figure 4. Hundreds of egrets were congregated around the water control structure at the old Lege' camp.

Figure 5. A pair of adult eagles were hanging around the Deep Lake canal.

Figure 6. Silvery end of the day.

Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014

As usual for this time of year, from 76° yesterday, it was 49° today, with overcast skies and rain threatening. With low water, the lake filled up with dabbling ducks, Black-necked Stilts, Willets, wading birds, terns, and shorebirds, with flocks of Snow Geese flying overhead. Timmy had burned the marsh corner by the house recently and he suggested they were looking it over as a feeding area.

I got busy on the dredge and cranked the unit up again to lift the pump, move it back and lay it down on the other side to finish chipping, wire-brushing and Ospho coating. I tried to clean out the jet-ring nozzles but you could hear the rust rattling around inside the ring.

Timmy worked on the ATV again, trying to get it to run better. The northwestern wind pushed the water out of Vermilion Bay, which pulled the water out of our canal and marsh. The water dropped out of the boatshed in a hurry, leaving everything aground.

Figure 7. With low water in the lake, more ducks, wading birds and shorebirds arrived to feed.

Figure 8. Wading birds, shorebirds and deer on the shallower north side of the big island.

Figure 9. I worked on the bottom of the dredge pump and Timmy got the ATV running.

Figure 10. The northwest wind pushed all the water out of the marsh and canals, leaving all of our vessels aground.

Thursday, Nov 13, 2014

The front passed taking our warmth with it. The morning was 39°, windy at 10mph with gusts to 20mph, and light rain. The lake again was filling up with ducks. I watched a flock try to leave, and flying against the wind, they lifted but stayed in place over the water. They swooped around to land in the lake again, then swam to shelter behind a marsh island. Thank goodness Timmy took me back to the dock in the Goose. I would have been a chunk of ice in my boat!

November 19-20, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This time, I towed “my”boat down from Baton Rouge, and stopped to pick up lunch. I made it to the headquarters 11:30. Timmy was out cutting roseaucane so I tried to find him to bring him lunch, but failed. The Sanctuary is a big place. I knew I had limited time for the day to be warm enough to paint, so I went back to camp and started working on the dredge. I sanded and primed the bottom of the spuds and pump, and Timmy arrived to eat a late lunch.

Figure 11. Bottom of the spuds were primed by pirogue again.

Figure 12. The bottom of the pump was primed. Nice to see the rust gone.

While I worked, Snow Geese passed over in flocks of over a 100. I love the sound they make as they keep up constant conversations while they fly. Mallards, teal, and Gadwall were again in lake. Black-necked Stilts, Avocets and other shorebirds were in the “way-back.”

That task finished and waiting for paint to dry, I went with Timmy to stack cane bundles at Christian Marsh. He had built a new boardwalk to the mudboat to replace the flats that were rotting out and becoming not only unbecoming but dangerous.

Figure 13. The Christian Marsh access now has a new boardwalk (foreground) to the mudboat that is used to get to the terraces.

Thursday, November 20,2014

It was a really beautiful morning out in the marsh, and there were numerous ducks, geese, Common Gallinules, marsh wrens and sparrows. We’ve decided that you could get a fairly accurate count of Marsh Wrens just by counting the number of marsh islands, as each one seems to hold a pair.

Figure 14. It was a beautiful morning in the marsh.

Figure 15. It was too pretty a morning for just one picture, so I added another. Notice Common Gallinules crossing under the sun.

Back to work on the dredge, I painted the bottom of the pump and spuds. I had to crank up the Crucial to pick the pump up and lay it on the other side. Each time the Crucial unit is cranked up, the hydraulic oil leaks from the top of the tank, so we are sure the filter needs to be changed. I ordered that during a break today. I decided to paint the bottom of the spuds blue, so we could easily tell when to stop raising it.

Figure 16. finished first coat of paint on both the spuds and pump. They look so clean!

 

 

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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