Thursday, May 31, 2012

05/31/2012 - Halls Mill Creek

Header image is a photo of a kayaker on Halls Mill Creek. For those interested in buying a kayak, the key is comfort and this kayaker looks comfortable.

Yellow pond lilies are still in bloom making Halls Mill Creek a good kayaking destination right now.

The one hazard on Halls Mill Creek to be aware of is under the Hwy 90 bridge where there is about a two foot drop over a rock dam. You have to drag the kayak over the rocks going upstream. Normally you can paddle downstream over this rapids (if you don't mind scratching the bottom of your kayak on rocks) but recent rains deposited a large log which blocks the smoother path.

Further up Halls Mill Creek the waters get very clear and shallow enough to walk across in some places. Today I paddled up Halls Mill Creek past Campground Branch behind the Environmental Center lake before running into a small log jam and turning around. What a shame...Mobile has two parks along Halls Mill Creek - Vista Ridge Park and Schwartz Park - neither of which provides public access to launch a kayak.

A spider carrying around a blue ball which is probably its egg sack.

Not sure what kind of ducks these are.

An osprey eagle is feeding one of its three babies.

 Hippie Beach. Most of the trash is kept in a big pile which occasionally gets burned.

Canal off Halls Mill Creek is still draped with plastic garbage bags.

Near Vista Ridge Park there were occasional pockets of floating garbage consisting mostly of plastic bottles. Much of the trash looked old.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

05/30/2012 - Moore Creek

Header image is a sunset photo of a Father and his Daughter, both on stand up paddleboards also known as SUPs.

A large computer monitor rots in Moore Creek.

A horse with no name munching on greens.

Looks like Chimney Swifts but that is a guess. Some of them were wanting to be fed but it looked like Mom and Dad were ignoring them on purpose. If they are old enough to fly, they are old enough to get their own food.

Obligatory photo of a bird with trash in the background. It is a yellow-crowned night heron.

Conveniently trapped collection of plastic garbage under a private dock from a past heavy rain, ignored as usual. Mobile doesn't care what is in the water.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

05/27/2012 - Three Mile Creek Watershed

Header image is the obligatory photo of ducks with shoreline trash in the background.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend. I thank those heros who sacrificed their life so that we in America have the freedom to turn our waterways into trash and chemical dumps. Government has contaminated our groundwater with Perchlorate, among other chemicals. Ever wonder why there are more Drug stores on street corners than grocery stores? Greedy Corporations are expecting there to be a lot of sick people. Apathy about water pollution makes them happy.

A green heron stands in Three Mile Creek as the sun rises.

Thankfully nature produces a plush bank of wildflowers flowers that hides most the trash during the summer months.

Coreopsis tinctora flowers droop into the water.

Huge shrubs of mint like flowers grow along the bank of Three Mile Creek.

The reason why there is no trash in the background in this bird photo is this was taken in old Three Mile Creek, currently clogged by vegetation so litter is rare in this area. Unfortunately, local biologists want to unclog old Three Mile Creek and once that happens it will receive litter from Three Mile Creek canal.

Trash in Maple Street Canal continues to fill up the waterway. This water is connected to your drinking water supply via ground water. You can ignore the rotting garbage in this downtown Mobile waterway forever but you can't ignore the negative consequences it may have on your body, or your children's bodies. 

A blackbird looked like it was hunting insects hiding in the water spangle and duckweed.

Great birding in the Three Mile Creek watershed right now as the birds are tending their young. A yellow crowned night heron can be seen in a nest overhanging the garbage filled creek.

Closer view of the yellow crowned night heron with its babies.

 I think this is a young green heron.

A couple of black crowned night herons with one of its babies.

Cute baby little blue herons peeking through the leaves.

Dragonfly intimacy aka sex on the fly.

There are times while kayaking that plastic trash causes a second look due to its shape and location. This piece of garbage was worthy of a photo.

Eyes be seeing you later.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

05/24/2012 - Dog River

Header image is a photo of baby Muscovy ducks. One of them looks like it received a head injury.

The City of Mobile refuses to remove the shoreline trash at Dog River Park. Sure wish I could afford to idle my car while taking a lunch break like these City of Mobile employees are doing in their City truck. They City of Mobile apparently has plenty of gas to waste.

That City of Mobile truck parked on the grass (see photo #1) was breaking the City of Mobile Code, which isn't even correctly identified on the sign. But I guess it does not matter because there are so many rules that the City of Mobile can't even get their Municipal Code numbers right much less enforce any of them. Mobile needs new leadership. Get the Jones out of Mobile!

Mobile is facing a budget crisis and is already saving big bucks by ignoring the trash in the water so why not just shut down public works entirely and save even more money? Let everyone in Mobile live in their own trash like they are forcing some waterway residents to do.

The herons take it one day at a time.

A great egret.

A Muscovy duck with several baby chicks behind it. Welcome baby chicks to Mobile, just ignore the trash like the City of Mobile, the County of Mobile, the State of Alabama and the Federal Government does.

School must be out for the summer as there were quite a few young people out on the water today, some of who were in kayaks.

How did Dog River get its name? There must have been a Dog involved.

Some of the youngsters were being towed by power boats. Who is the best knee boarder?

How do you cool your butt off on a hot day in May? Ahhhh.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

05/20/2012 - ASRT Black Warrior Nature Paddle Event (Day 2 of 2) Dam!

Event: Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT) Black Warrior Nature Paddle.
Launch at Foscue Creek Park.
Destination: Paddle through the Demopolis Lock led by Anne Cross with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Take out at the Lower Pool.
Paddle Distance: About 3 miles.
Paddle time: Approx 1-3/4 hrs
Weather: Sunny, winds calm. Air temp wonderful. Currents minimal except near the spillway. Beautiful kayaking weather.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

Header Image is a view of the complex multi-directional flow of water over the Demopolis Dam.

Anne Cross, center of the photo, with the US Army Corps of Engineers gave a pre-trip talk about the history of the Corps and Dams in Alabama. For more history on the Demopolis Dam and the Mobile District, Click Here. Jim Felder, Executive Director of Alabama Scenic River Trails, wearing the blue shirt on the right side of the photo, organized this event.

The small group paddles out of Foscue Creek Park toward the Tombigbee River with the USCOE support boat tagging along.

Paddle conditions were perfect.

Paddle conditions were perfect.

Our group paddles toward the Demopolis Lock.

Our group paddles toward into the Demopolis Lock.

Water level at the start was high.

Water level at the end was low. Those marks on the right side wall are 2 feet apart. The 40+ foot drop of water level took about 15 minutes. Apparently when water is raised, there can be significant whirlpools in this lock. I had no idea what was on the other side of the opening doors. Fast forward in the whirlpool video to about 8:00 in time and hear the guy say, "Holy Crap." I was about to see why he said "Holy Crap" in the video.

For me, going through this Lock was the highlight of this ASRT weekend paddle event. (Sorry Don). Photos don't do this justice. Look on the horizon toward the left on this photo. There are two fishing boats which help to give perspective of the immense size of the spillway.

Swimming was allowed as we took a break on a conveniently located island next to the dam. To see more photos of the Demopolis Dam - Click Here.

Some boaters were fishing for catfish about 50 yards from the spillway.

The roar of the spillway and its sheer size was mesmerizing. There did not appear to be the hazards associated with low-head dams at this Demopolis Dam, but wisely, none of us ventured close enough to find out, not even Billy.

A couple of locals were fishing near the waterfall.

Bob kayaks near the roaring waterfall. What an awesome display of water power.

Numerous great egrets were fishing at the top of the dam where you would think the speed of the water would knock them over.

More egrets.

Anne Cross, always smiling, was instrumental in initially organizing this kayak trip by soliciting the help of Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT). Fred Couch, president of ASRT is in the red kayak looking at the waterfall.

On the lower end of the spillway, the waterfall flattens out. A couple of us looked over the potential for doing a little white water kayaking but wisely decided against it as no one had helmets or a true white water kayak. This area looks like it would make a great place for white water play.

Foam trails make designs in the water as they flow downstream.

Not far from the Demopolis Dam, we took out the kayaks at the Lower Pool boat ramp. The USCOE transported the kayaks back to Foscue Creek Park where everyone said their goodbyes. Sure hope we can do it again next year!

Back at Foscue Creek Park, Don Self updated the list of birds documented during this two day event. Several more could be added to the list for me because I saw a Comorant, Great Blue, Osprey Eagle, and a Black Crowned Night Heron while on solo paddles. Demopolis is a great place to get in a kayak or go walking on a trail to do some serious bird watching. A big thumbs up on this event and many thanks go to everyone involved.