Monday, April 30, 2012

04/30/2012 - Upper Dog River

Header image is the obligatory photo of a wood duck in Dog River with the usual trash in the background.

I kayaked in upper Dog River today to see how effective the annual week long Spring Cleanup event was. It ended on Saturday. Looks good here...from a distance. 

This couple was chill'n in front of the River Landing Condominiums on this hot summer-like day. Looks good here, but of course, the Condo grounds are maintained. Let's see what is across the river from them.

Here is Dog River Park today by the interpretive signs. The city workers who maintain this park seem to be blind to trash. That is part of the problem with Mobile being so trashy. The City tolerates trash like this in their parks and along all their roadways. We need new leadership in Mobile because the trash loving officials in there now have proven they are not capable of keeping city parks clean.

The back side of Dog River Park was littered too, including trash in the water.

A couple of shoreline properties further up along Dog River looked like they had been cleaned in a few spots. However, based on what I saw along the normally trashy shoreline areas, it was apparent that this Clean-Up event failed to remove most of the garbage that was already there. A once a year 4-hour volunteer cleanup event to remove a year's worth of trash is akin to removing a couple of turds from a toilet that has been overflowing for an entire year. A few people can walk away feeling good that they tried to make a difference by removing some crap, but, in reality, the majority of the crap is still there. It is not the fault of the volunteers that the cleanup event failed. They should be praised for their efforts. The question is, why is there so much shoreline garbage? Because Mobile has no one removing it after it enters urban waterways. Failure of the City of Mobile to plan to remove garbage once it hits their waterways is basically a City of Mobile plan to pollute your local waterways. 

I bet the water bottlers are laughing all the way to the bank about the worsening water pollution in this area. The public perception of water being polluted is good for water bottler's business. I wonder how much money the water bottlers contributed to the campaigns of the local elected officials who continue to allow public garbage to rot in local waterways, month after month, year after year...

More typical shoreline garbage in the same place as it was last year.

More typical shoreline garbage in the same place as it was last year.

No one removed the hazardous televisions from Dog River. This rerun is getting old.

No one removed the hazardous televisions from Dog River. This rerun is getting old.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

04/29/2012 - One Mile Creek and Maple Street Canal

Header image is the obligatory photo of a wood duck, this one taken in One Mile Creek. In the background is an oil boom that has yet to be removed. I wonder where all that BP money is really going because none of it is being used to clean Mobile's urban waterways...

As you probably expected, the first thing I did upon getting back to town was check out how effective the Cleanup Event was. Another 4-hour volunteer clean-up event failed to remove any trash from Three Mile Creek, One Mile Creek and Maple Street Canal. That is sad. 

The City shouldn't be waiting for volunteer efforts to clean up the storm water generated pollution - they should have their own crew removing the trash. Got no money? Raise the taxes to keep Mobile and its waterways free of litter.

This City of Mobile property is not looking so good. 

Aren't there enough people in the prison to clean this up? If not, start arresting litterers and put them to work cleaning up this mess!

Mobile is heads above the rest when it comes to ignoring their waterway pollution, but they are not alone when it comes to struggling with plastics litter. Los Angeles is getting in a bitter war over plastic garbage bags.

Despite the paddle through the disgusting trash, I had the good fortune of paddling through the middle of a spawning or mating session of about a dozen large alligator gar fish in Three Mile Creek. The gar's occasional splashes got me soaked.

Some sources indicate Gar have attacked humans, others say it is myth. These alligator gar seemed to be pretty docile to me, but based on their teeth and size, my heart rate was pretty elevated while taking these photos.

One of the Gar had to be over 6 feet long. Even though the waters were clear, the Gar would swim right under the kayak and in some cases bump it and then make a big splash.

I was in awe watching these huge fish swim all around the kayak. If you can turn a blind eye to all the shoreline trash like the City of Mobile does, there is abundant life in Three Mile Creek and it is worthy of a kayak trip.

Short YouTube video of the Gar Fish.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

04/24/2012 - Big Creek Lake

Launch: I went to launch at US Hwy 98 but a sign there said "No Boat Launching," and mentioned something about a fine. So, to be safe, I went to the Howells Ferry Road launch site instead which added on about 10-12 extra miles to the trip.
Launch Cost: $5 Destination: Upper Big Creek, past the US 98 bypass currently under construction.
Distance: 19 miles (round trip)
Paddle time: 7 hours
Weather: Cool morning starting at 50 degrees and rising to about 68. Calm conditions at start and winds picked up to 10-15 mph out of the southwest in the afternoon. No tide influence. Current minimal in upper Big Creek. One foot chop on the return trip.
Caution note: Big Creek Lake has miles of open water and is subject to becoming choppy in windy conditions. Take a spray skirt.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

Header image is a photo of some wood ducks. Also seen today were Teal and Coot.

It was a beautiful day to go kayaking in Big Creek Lake. The image here is taken at the Howells Ferry Road launch site which has a very kayak friendly hard- packed sandy and grass shoreline to launch from.

Boggy Branch has a lot of fragrant water lilies (Nymphaea odorata ).

Fragrant Water Lilies in Boggy Branch.

Fragrant Water Lilies in Boggy Branch.

Center of a Southern Magnolia flower (Magnolia grandiflora).

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) was in bloom - it is beautiful but poisonous.

Purple Bladderwort (Utricularia purpurea).

Watershield (Brasenia schreberi) is an aquatic plant I've only seen in Big Creek Lake. The floating leaves are shaped like a football or an old oval shield from Roman times, hence the name Watershield. The flowers are small and inconspicuous.

Plenty of turtles to be seen in Big Creek Lake.

There were also plenty of frogs. Note the green stripe down this frog's back - it is a cricket frog and is about the size of a quarter.

This fishing spider was doing a good job blending in with the tree bark. 

Blobs of algae or something were abundant in the water north of Hwy 98.

Nature's own swirls of art work.

There is a lot of aquatic vegetation in Big Creek Lake in a wide variety of colors. Because the water is mostly clear except for Long Branch which has a muddy water problem, vegetation can be seen to about 4 feet deep.

Wide triangular like head? Has fat jaws? Leave it alone! Cottonmouth Moccasins can be aggressive and I can attest that some of them will even chase a kayak. How good are you at going backwards, fast? This photo was taken using a delayed 10 second self timer setting on a camera attached to a long pole - I'm not crazy enough to get near a Moccasin with a hand held camera.

Yes, they have some Big alligators in Big Creek Lake. Hwy 98 bridge is in the background.

You'll forget you're in Big Creek Lake while in any of the flooded forests.

Upper Big Creek is very beautiful, quiet and you won't get much sun because of the thick canopy overhead.

The shoreline of Big Creek Lake is beginning to look like the shoreline of Three Mile Creek - a trash dump. Most of the trash (plastic furniture, spray cans, a couple dozen vehicle tires, and the usual abundance of plastic bottles), is within a mile north and south of US Hwy 98. 

Unlike Three Mile Creek, Big Creek Lake is the main source of drinking water for the City of Mobile. What's in your drinking water, someone's trash? Whoever is responsible for keeping Big Creek Lake clean is failing to do their job.

Trash along Big Creek Lake.

Trash on the bottom of Big Creek Lake.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

04/22/2012 - Bayou Tallapoosa

Header Image is a photo of a water snake sticking out its forked tongue.

The amazing hugging tree in Rice Creek.

Rice Creek has some impressive Cypress Trees.

Bayou Tallapoosa was difficult to paddle today due to a half a dozen obstacles blocking the waterway. It is tricky to get out on a log, balance, lift the kayak, swing it over onto the other side, and get back in.

This species of turtle (Black-Knobbed Sawback Turtle) has unique markings on the top of its head so it appears it is looking at you even though it is looking in the opposite direction. For another view of this species, CLICK HERE.

A coot standing guard at the entrance to Bayou Tallapoosa.

Sometimes loud noises along the creek bank turn out to be squirrels. It is very quiet up in Bayou Tallapoosa as it is far from civilization.

The tracks here indicate a big alligator had recently climbed the bank.

Where there are alligator tracks, there are alligators.

When you're gliding along the shoreline going under limbs, be aware that snakes like to climb in those shoreline limbs.

Most snakes are harmless though, like this water snake. Look closely at its eye and you can see the reflection of my kayak. Yes, I was close. Snakes with round eyes are not poisonous though.

I ran into Capt. Mike who leads kayaking trips for 5-Rivers Delta Safaris. He was coming back from the Indian Mounds which was inaccessible due to the trail being too wet. Water was actually draining out of Dominic Creek into the Tensaw River.

The group of kayakers Capt. Mike was leading was having too much fun. It was a birthday party. What a great way to celebrate a birthday!

The Bartram Trail Canoe and Kayak platforms are still like new. That goes to show you how respectful boaters and other people are in this area.

 A fishing spider was the welcoming committee at the platform.

I paddled to the Two Rivers campground to see what its condition was like. It is a steep climb and expect to get a little muddy. There is a rope to help you get up the bank.

A houseboat on the backwaters in the Delta. People don't usually mess with anyone's fishing and hunting camps in the Delta and if they do and get caught, they are likely to get shot.

A yellow warbler near a vine of Poison Ivy.

I also saw Bob who runs Sunshine Canoes today. He was suppose to be leading a Bartram Trail paddle for Alabama Scenic River Trail in this area today but it was canceled due to a large tree that fell blocking Bayou Jessamine. Water levels were low today - it was easy to go under that tree. Bayou Jessamine and Bayou Tallapoosa both need some chain saw work done on them to make them navigable at all water levels.

Seeds were coating the surface of the water in some areas making it look white like snow.

Happy Birthday Earth!