Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The sunrise is close to 6:40 this late in August, so our early morning start was at 7 am. We went to the pond first and checked water level which was 5” below marsh level (BML), which is only an inch or two above the last time we dredged.
On the way to the boardwalk, we came across a newly hatched speckled king snake. I personally have not seen very many snakes in the marsh, even though Timmy keeps warning me to be on the lookout for moccasins. The only species I usually run across are the more terrestrial ones like black racers or kingsnakes.
This morning, we dredged for 2.5 hours. At 7 AM, the temperature was already 79° with a heat index of 83° and humidity at 100%. As usual, the noise and vibration of the dredge seemed to be ignored by wildlife around us. A gator cruised the banana lilies right next to us and we were able to closely observe its method of fishing. When it sensed something near, it would dip its nose into the water, curl its body and wait. With one swift lurch it would surge into motion and snap up whatever had come within reach. Last week, we watched the gator jump completely out of the water following a small gar. Minnows, crabs, and larger fish surrounded us, often right next to the pump or hose. Kingbirds flew back and forth across the canal to perch in the trees adjacent to our anchor line along the bank.
At the end of one round trip dredging across the canal, we shut the dredge down and took the canoe out to observe results. The entire experimental site within containment has new sediment on the bottom, and the low water level makes moving about by canoe somewhat difficult. We were able to make it out to the marsh island between Cell 4 and Cell 3 and walked over to look at the outflow. We had again filled Cell 4 to the water level and added more to the exposed delta around the outflow. The inch increase in water level had inundated Cell 5 at the containment, and filled some of the mud cracks at that end of the Cell.
Any more fill at this point would not stay in Cell 4 because of the low water level, so any more dredging would be wasted until the water level comes up.
We were amazed to see the vegetation surrounding the dry mud of Cell 5 already starting to grow into the new material. Spikerush was expanding its area, and three-square (Scirpus olneyi) was sending tillers out.
We headed back to camp to trade equipment for fishing gear. A quick ride down Belle Island Bayou to the State Wildlife Refuge brought us to one of Timmy’s favorite spots for croaker fishing. It took about an hour to bring in a half a dozen croaker. Back at camp, fish were cleaned, people were cleaned, and the AC helped us cool down. While Karen was online with mandatory Audubon email migration, Timmy went outside again to start on the foundation of the large storage shed, and used all of the cement we had brought yesterday around the bottom of the posts he had set in holes excavated previously.
Karen went outside in later afternoon to paint large numbers on the white 4’x 4’ markers that will be used for geo-referencing aerial photos acquired by the LSU remote planes.