Saturday, May 19, 2012

05/19/2012 - ASRT Black Warrior Nature Paddle Event (Day 1 of 2)

Event: Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT) Black Warrior Nature Paddle. Birding kayak trip lead by avid birder Don Self.
Early morning sunrise launch at Backbone Creek after being shuttled from Foscue Creek Park by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Destination: Backbone Creek to Runaway Branch to Demopolis City Landing where participants are shuttled back to Foscue Creek Park.
Paddle Distance: About 14 miles.
Paddle time: Approx 8 hrs
Weather: Sunny, winds calm. Air temp cool in the morning to hot in the afternoon. Currents minimal. Wonderful weather for kayaking.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

Header image is a photo merge.

Participants of the ASRT Bird Watching paddle eagerly prepare to launch at Backbone Creek while listening to a briefing.

The sounds of birds were permeating through the air as the sun rose. For those who camped out at Foscue Park, the pre-sunrise bird chatter was the alarm clock.

Paddling was not the objective in this bird watching and bird listening adventure as Don Self educated everyone with his substantial knowledge about birds.

It was quiet except for the sound of excited birds and excited participants asking, "What's bird is making that sound," or pointing and asking, "What's bird is that?"

Beautiful Cypress trees were growing in the shallow water of some of the backwater sloughs we kayaked in. Don, on the left, is wearing Hunters Ears headphones which provide sound amplification.

The kayak birding adventure eventually moved out into the big water of the Black Warrior River.

The US Corps Of Engineers had a support boat on the water for safety. Most motor boats slowed down or stayed far away and boat wakes were minimal. Thanks!

One motor boat operator alerted the COE safety boat that a bird was caught on a fishing line further downstream. It was a great egret with its left wing hooked on a fishing lure left hanging in a tree. Today was the egret's lucky day as friendly help was nearby when it needed it.

Our fearless leader Don Self was quick to the rescue, seen here reaching for a tool to help remove the lure from the egret's wing. What you don't see in this photo is the egret is biting Don on his left arm.

Don quickly freed the egret. The injured bird hobbled off like it was drunk, obviously in a great deal of pain and distress. I hope the poor bird heals well enough to fly again.

We took a short lunch break at Runaway Branch Park which is north of Demopolis.

We also took a short break on the Black Warrior River.

In one of the sloughs we kayaked in, a boater pulled in about an 18" Grinnell Fish also known as a Bowfin from his floating fishing line.

That is the BN Rail Road trestle in the foreground. The US 43 bridge with a barge beneath it is visible far in the distance. Both are crossing over the Black Warrior River.

Judy gets a close look at a snake coiled up on some limbs (right side of the photo-center). It was a harmless water snake.

The generous Park Rangers of the USCOE provided shuttle for the kayaks in addition to support on the water. Many thanks!

Kevin and Debbie relax on a bench along the Tombigbee River at the Demopolis City Landing park.

Today was an interesting day of bird watching. I saw at least a half dozen bird species I've never seen before. The total number of birds identified today was close to four dozen species.

We all got cleaned up after the paddle and proceeded to Lyon Hall in Demopolis, Alabama, which is a historic home owned and operated by the Marengo County Historical Society where we were treated to a tour of the home and then a hearty all you can eat catfish dinner. 

Kirk Brooker with the Marengo County Historical Society delighted everyone with interesting stories on both Friday and Saturday evening. The desserts were scrumptious. This was a wonderful day.

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