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.
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.