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.


dani813 said...

Why would someone shoot such a bird?? I spend so much of my time watching these beauties and to think some one did this just for kicks is just heartbreaking.

Doug Taron said...

Are there snail kites in your part of the world or are you too far north?

life on the road said...

Those actually look like Florida Apple Snails, are they? That's something I don't get too see very often down here in South Florida. We have all those nasty exotic apple snails.

robin andrea said...

I was going to ask the same question dani813 asked, why would someone shoot a wood stork? How very sad to think that could be someone's idea of fun.

I'm looking forward to your photos of the limpkin.

SophieMae said...

If the stork was shot, the FWC would be interested in hearing about it. Aren't they still 'endangered'... or did they bump them down to 'threatened'? Kinda makes ya sick, doesn't it? I just read a reports of some eagle-shooting eejits in AL and S FL. The FL incident involved a nesting mother, so 2 eggs were lost, as well.

Deb said...

The wood stork shooting reminds me of my first encounter of a great gray owl...dead in a tree...killed by gunshot. Ugh. Who would kill these beautiful creatures?

misti said...

Never realized that the woodstorks had some green to them. We seem to have an abundant population this year (apparently nesting was high a few years ago and we're seeing more now) and they are everywhere. Travesty that one was shot.

One bird I haven't seen yet is a swallowtail kite. Odd.

Floridacracker said...

I don't understand it either.

Too far north.

These are the real natives.

It's confusing to me too.

Done deed with no obvious suspects around. Possibly some other cause of death also, although I doubt it.

Ignorance kills.

This low lake level is great for woodstork feeding, too bad this one can't take advantage of that.

tsiya said...

There is always some creep around, pretending to be an outdoorsman. They get caught, sooner or later.
I have a Red Shouldered Hawk around here who is so used to me that I can get close to her. Damned if some idiot didn't shoot her a while back, but thankfully she recovered. I was really hurt, because I'm the one who taught her not to fear people.
I'm Bob, or tsiya, I live near Cabbage Hammock, West of St. Augustine.

Floridacracker said...

Welcome to Pure Florida!
I had the same problem with a much older neighbor years ago. He saw all hawks as chicken killers, it had been ingrained in him since his youth.
Glad you stopped by!