Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mud Legs, Mud Nests ... What Lies Beneath.

I had to lighten this photo quite a bit as the mud was so dark, it seemed to vanish in the photo.

My little fishing expedition yesterday evening was pretty fruitless. Water levels are extremely low around here as the spring dry season continues, so fish bearing water bodies are a little hard to find. With many of my usual fishy creeks and ditches dried up, I headed south to Gulf Hammock and Flat Branch.

Flat Branch is a clear, tiny stream that slips under US-19, sometimes vigorously and sometimes, like now, meekly. The channel had shrunk in width with many cattail islands completely out of the water and a thin sheen of 2 or 3 inch deep water over knee deep foul smelling black mud that belched marsh gas bubbles with each step.

I'm no stranger to foul smelling gases as I live with a teenage son and a Labrador Retriever, but this was pretty powerful stuff. What was worse than the stink though was the strange, stinging sensation that the mud was delivering to my bare legs.

The stink continued while I was mucking about trying to net some of the breeding native sailfin mollies, flagfish, and gambusia. It even continued afterwards while the mud dried upon my legs.
At home, when I rinsed outside, and then showered inside, everywhere the mud had been was a red, slightly irritated contact rashy discoloration.

It stayed for a while and then faded away. Weird.
Mud is usually pretty benign.

Wading in sucking, knee deep mud near sunset in alligator habitat is not my favorite thing to do anyway, so the little mud stingers sorta motivated me to move onto higher ground and try dipping under the US-19 bridge.

"Shhhhh, we're busy developing."
That's where I discovered these sleeping babies. I think they are barn swallows. The adults were above the road snatching insects out of the air, so I didn't stay too long under the overpass.

Pretty cute in an punk rocker sorta way.


threecollie said...

Ummm, stinging mud in alligator land...glad you moved on to more benign organisms. And cuter. It amazes me to think of mollies and things running wild. Did you catch any?

Sayre said...

Huh.... I wonder was the stinging mud from something biological or chemical?

Love the babies... so ugly and cute all at the same time.

Doug Taron said...

Overwhelming stench, stinging sensation- I'm guessing that the odor was hydrogen sulfide. Did it have a rotten egg kind of smell? I have such good memories of Flat Branch. I went black lighting along the banks about 4 years ago. An alarming number of giant water bugs came to the sheet. I kept feeling like one was about to latch on to an earlobe. It's the only place I've ever collected S-banded tiger beetles. I'm hoping to get back there when I'm in Gainesville this October.

Island Rider said...

Love the babies. Do you think there was pollution in the water to affect you so?

Nancy Ortiz said...

Hydrogensulfide might be it if its characteristic odor was there. But, the mollies and other fish are aquarium fish aren't they? Do people flush them or do they discard acquarium water with eggs in it? I've always been leery of trying to have an acquarium but maybe if the fish can survive in Flat Branch, they can survive here. :)

nfmgirl said...

We have sailfin mollies down here? Who knew? I used to keep them in a tank many years ago, and I had to BUY them, while you just net them!

We went hiking through the swamp last September down at Clyde Butcher's. It was wet, cold, muddy, and nasty (and gator habitat), but no burning sensation. That would be disconcerting.

And, ewww, Doug Taron: I hate those toe biters! They really freak me out!

cndymkr / jean said...

That last photo is a heart breaker.

Floridacracker said...

It is a bit disconcerting to know you are stuck in mud and quick retreat is not an option.
The mollies are wild and native.

I'm hoping it was just some microorganism in the mud and not Agent Orange or something like that!

I know you love insects, but I hate those giant water bugs. Their bite is soooooo damn painful.

Better not be!

I'm sure it was H2S, with a little CH4 tossed in.
The sailfin molly is a native and not some escapee from aquaria.

Our sailfin mollies are real Floridians, but other color schemes are going to be aquaria escapees.

Truly. Pretty cute buttugly baby.

TROLL Y2K said...

Water mites, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

You know, there are people who pay good money at a spa for "invigorating" mud baths, and they don't even get to see the baby swallows.

Carol said...

I'll do my hunting from the boat. I had to wade thru some of that sucking..stinking mud on Lake Okalawaha from the Kayak, to get the dogs to shore. I wouldnt even put my feet in the boat on the way back...

Do you get up aroud Lake George at all? Silver Glen Springs?

tsiya said...

There should be some Florida Flagfish and Pygmy Sunfish in there too.

Ericka said...

burning mud? that must have been disconcerting.

water bugs? *shudder* gawds, i HATE those things. they are roaches. HUGE FLYING MUTANT ROACHES! aaaahhhhh!

S N B said...

We are running parallel again. This weekend, I will be out looking for freshwater critters to put in my room for my kindergartners to observe. I usually go to Wacissa with a net and bucket and bring back shrimp, crayfish, various water beetles, dragonfly nymphs, skeeterfish and other tiny fish, and if I am lucky, a newt. It is so amazing to them as they only thought there were big animals (turtles, snakes, gators, etc.) in the water. Good luck finding what you need.

lisa said...

I quess mudding it is better in a 4x4 rather than a 2x2. (ha Ha). We love barn swallows. The pictures are great.

Pablo said...

I think the technical term for that muck is "loathsome goo."

(senchu an email)

Alan said...

You teachers are often knee deep in something... :)

Got a request of you - took a picture of a toad I don't recognize and posted it on my blog today - if you get a chance could you check it out and see if you can identify it? I'm guessing it is a non-native species.

Freste said...

Yipes, wading in mysterious brown goo? There are reasons I would never do that. You found one of them. Parasites, chemicals, nasty microorganisms, everlasting putrosity of smell, piranha, Jason, The Creature from the Brown Lagoon, Lindsay Lohan... Man you never know what's in there!