Saturday, March 12, 2011

Floods and Feathers

Oh my! While this Mallard drake gleams serenely in the sun, lots of things are going on. The earthquake in Japan - such a difference between it and the one in Haiti. Even in the videos on TV, I did not notice the buildings completely collapsing as they did in Haiti. Of course, the Japanese probably know more about earthquakes and how to survive them than anyone anywhere else. One of the volunteers at Raptor Rehab is a pilot for UPS, and she flies all over the world. We learned that she was in a hotel in Osaka when the quake struck, and had to walk down 44 flights of stairs. I had to go down 13 when someone pulled the fire alarm in college and thought I would die! She'll be aching for days. We were all glad to hear she's OK. Just hope the airport gets working so she can fly out again.
This morning I went birding with Beckham Bird Club at a lake I'd never been to before near Elizabethtown, KY. We saw a good variety of water birds, including a Horned Grebe in breeding plumage (a first for me), and the first Tree Swallows of the season. A Red Shouldered Hawk carried a snake away in the distance. The Ky Birdlist has reported a Ross' Goose here, and we found it with a group of domestic gray geese. Over 200 Sandhill Cranes flew over on their way north.
We saw more American Coots than I've ever seen in one place together too. I didn't realize how small they really are until some swam next to this Mallard. You expect Gulls to swoop and dive down to the water, but not Crows! These Crows were out there swooping with the Gulls like they do it every day, and came up with something in their beaks. It almost looks like Cheetos...I'm sure Crows will eat Cheetos, but why would Cheetos be floating in the middle of a large lake?
I was impressed with the accurate predictions about the tsunamis after the quake, and how quickly they crossed half a world. We have flooding on the Ohio River too, but nothing as bad as other places. Some of the lower roads are covered. You can see the size of the logs that float downstream and end up at the Falls of the Ohio.
Those large logs get past the dam because the Army Corps of Engineers just opens the gates entirely, as you can see from this photo of the dam, just above a railroad trestle at the falls. What you can't see is the rest of the dam extending from the gates to where I am standing, which are completely covered with water. I know the dam is about 30 feet taller than the fossil beds, and it's completely covered. Water extends from shore to shore.
Downstream at the George Rogers Clark cabin, the dam is also completely submerged. This photo is taken from the cabin and you can barely see the gates at the lower end of the dam by the LG&E power plant, shut down when the river gets too high. It must be over a mile from the cabin to Shippingport Island and the power plant.
Last spring we had the very first Bald Eagle nest in Jefferson County, KY, here at Shippingport Island in the middle of the Ohio River. Unfortunately, the nest failed, and no young hatched. People have asked me why, but I never heard any theories. Well, the same pair are back, and she's sitting in the same nest (you can barely see her - remember the distance). I ran into some birding friends who really know their stuff. They asked if the male was around but I hadn't seen him. They shook their heads sadly. They think the nest failed last year because this male is a dead-beat dad. He didn't do his share of incubating the eggs while the female hunts, nor did he bring her fish while she sat on the eggs. Thus the eggs were exposed too much during bad weather last spring and died. I wonder if Eagles ever divorce?


Mary said...

It sure has been a rain soaked time, but oh my nothing, nothing at all compared to what has happened in Japan. My heart just breaks for those people!!! I had so wondered about the Bald Eagle nest and also thought Thunder Over Louisville, may have had an impact, thought we can never know for certain~

oldpoetsoul said...

We stumbled on your blog today, and just wanted to tell you we LOVE it! Thanks so much for all the beautiful pictures, and the information . . .we've learned so much today and can't wait to read more. Thanks so much!

Mary Beth- the Daughter said...

i see the eagle... whoo hoo on the nest on the left correct?

denapple said...

This big blob is the Eagle nest, while the smaller ones on the right are for Great Blue Herons, which haven't started nesting yet.

Arlene said...

So much turmoil in the world now be it Mother Nature or of human origin. Hope the flooding isn't too bad in your area. We would love a raindrop or two here -- nothing all winter means no wildflowers this spring.
Like your new web design too.

Karen Bonsell, Louisville said...

I am worried about the Eagle nest because, when I checked on it about 3 days ago I saw one flying. When I checked my pics on the computer I could see that there was no Eagle on the nest when i saw the one in the air! I'm guessing, if it is the same pair, that he may be doing it again! I wonder if he will ever mature to the point of doing what he should? He could take a lesson from the Doves on my porch! One of them is always there on the nest!

Karen Bonsell, Louisville said...

I forgot to mention something before! It's funny that Neckham bird club went to Freeman lake on Sat. Because, I went there for the first time, on Sunday! I had been reading a lot of postings about the Ross' goose & wanted to see it for myself! I did get to see it, as well as the Horned Grebe! Pretty cool place!
Oddly enough, I discovered that Beckham had gone to Muscatatuck on the same day my husband & I had gone up there a couple of weeks ago! We also went to Ewing bottoms! Luckily, it was before the water was up to peak (although still pretty flooded)! It was amazing to see so many Sandhills! We got to see several Bald Eagles as well!
I need to just join Beckham, since it seems we are on the same wavelength!