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Bayou Fountain — May 23, 2015


Bayou Fountain — May 23, 2015

Turtles from the SKY!

It was just another normal day on Bayou Fountain… well, except for the turtles falling from the sky.

Saturday morning found Bayou Fountain only a bit lower than last time.  Apparently, a week of showers and thunderstorms can be convenient, at least for some things.  There was minimal current and a perfectly normal amount of water as we headed off downstream, and we expected a fairly easy day.

At the bridge.

Half a foot or so down from last time was enough to see just a bit more of the remains of the tree and such dropped by the last very high water.  Surprisingly, the south side of the bayou was now the side with most of the collected bits, while the north side was completely open and unencumbered.  I suppose the rains had been sufficient to shift things about, but little had moved along downstream.  With everything fairly stable, we left it for the return leg and continued downstream.

Mushrooms on a floating log.

The weather was quite nice, and all the way down the bayou, we only ran across two small catches.  They were easily dispatched, and it was not even two hours in when we turned at Bayou Manchac to head back to the park.  We expected a shower or possibly hearing a thunderstorm in the distance, but the weather turned out to be excellent.  (If anything, a few more clouds would have been welcome, but Bayou Fountain has abundant shade.)

Turtle, fallen.

In fact, it was passing under some of that shade (well, more of an old, dead branch, really) that provided the most excitement of the day.  I was paddling along, minding my own business, when out of nowhere there was a loud thunk that made me think I’d just been hit by a small piece of falling branch.  I looked down, and there beside me in the canoe was this little guy.

Turtle in the canoe.

Turtles are skittish.  As soon as they see you come around the bend, they panic and race for the water.  Usually, this manifests as a rapid ka-plunk, ka-plunk, ka-PLUNK! off at the limit of your sight line, but sometimes a turtle will be facing away from you and not see you coming.  In cases like that, you can sometimes get right up to them before they catch you in their peripheral vision and plunge to safety… or to your canoe if they happen to be in a branch you’re passing under.

In several years of paddling Bayou Fountain, surely over a hundred excursions, this is the first time any reptile has dropped into my canoe, and he was such a cute little turtle, too.  I tipped him over and gave him a few minutes to get his bearings, and when he started darting around the canoe trying to find the water, I gently lifted him with a paddle and sent him on his merry way.  (He actually popped back to the surface and looked at me for a beat.  That was cool.)

Well-fed snake.

Of course, being a bayou in summer, we also saw snakes out there.  We’re often asked about snakes, and the answer is basically that if you very slowly paddle up to them and then stay extremely still as you drift closer, with luck you might be able to get close enough to get a zoomed-in photo.  Some people worry about snakes, but as long as you don’t intentionally stalk them with extreme skill and subtlety, there’s really no chance that you’ll ever have a close encounter.  I have practiced my slow approach for years, and I can only get close enough for a photo some of the time.  This guy had apparently had a delicious fish recently, so he was extra mellow.

The bridge wood, after more work.

At last, it was back to the bridge with its remaining logs, trunks, and branches.  Last trip, a very large snake was sunning itself on the largest limbs.  He was there again this time, actually, but we needed to get some more remediation in.  So, I paddled near him and casually waved my paddle in his view to let him know I needed the spot.  As the water snakes do, he decided it was too exciting, and off he went.  An hour later, we figured that was enough sawing limbs, pulling branches, and otherwise dismantling more of the debris for one hot afternoon, so we continued along back to the park.  (If you could see through the water, the number of branches cut from the left side of the main trunk/log in the photo would be impressive, but I suppose you just had to be there.)

Purple flower.

Oh, I would be remiss if I did not mention the mosquitoes.  The last two trips, the mosquitoes, gnats, and so on have been about as bad as I can recall seeing on Bayou Fountain.  (They were bad enough I actually got around to buying a head net, and that’s saying something.)  Well, this time around, even with all the showers and thunderstorms nearly every day, the mosquitoes were drastically reduced in number and voracity.  It was practically normal out there again.  I don’t think I’ll leave the head net at home (especially since they tend to really come after you when you’re sitting in one spot doing strenuous manual labor), but for normal, everyday paddling, the bayou’s fine again.  Have fun, but don’t forget the repellant.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Victoria permalink
    2015-05-27 8:37am

    I really appreciate the reptile-wildlife and plant photos. And your work keeping the waterway clear.

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