Thursday, January 31, 2008
Walking On The Lake Bottom
Back at Lake Rodman, I tucked my parka hood over my head and headed off into the oozy black muck of the lake bottom. A cold wind was ripping across the open exposed bottom of the drawn down reservoir and I was glad to be exerting in the soft mud as it warmed me up.
The dark organic bottom muck was soft and squishy, but nothing like the buttdeep chocolate pudding mud of a salt marsh.
This was messy, but walkable.
I had not gone too far before I spooked a few turkey vultures that were clustered over this freshly dead woodstork.
I don't get close to old ironhead often and I had never noticed that the "black" feathers that highlight this mostly white bird are actually greenish black.
Sadly, I think this bird was shot. He was in easy .22 rifle range of the boatramp and seemed to have suddenly fallen from this log ... dead.
Not likely a natural death for such a bird.
I left him to the hungry vultures who had settled in some nearby trees to wait on my exit.
A drawdown exposes this organic goo to air and sun. The combination will shrink the volume of this thick layer dramatically. This is a temporary drawdown as far as I know, so eventually the lake will refill. In the meantime, grasses and dormant seeds will sprout and cover much of the exposed bottom.
When it does refill, the grasses and plants that colonized this bottom will trigger a boom in the aquatic life. Fishing will probably be spectacular for a while and then gradually return to normal.
There were a lot of apple snails in some areas I trudged through. They may have died from exposure as the water dropped, but they can burrow into moist mud during tough (dry) times, so I wonder if the local apple snail specialist didn't get them.
The Oklawaha has abundant limpkins and they dearly love apple snails. My guess is these wound up as escargot for the coolest bird on the river.
I have pictures of the limpkin, ... but that's another post.