Monday, June 06, 2011

Life at Dead Lakes

Click on an image for a larger view, then use your Back button to return to the story.  Enjoy!

"Surreal", I thought as we idled out into Dead Lakes from the ramp.  Hulking sculpted tree bases filled and lined the lake.  Stumps rose up to 15 feet above water while others hid treacherously just below the surface.  The lake is the result of backed up water in the final 10 miles of the Chipola River when the Apalachicola River is high.  The Chipola ends at the mighty Apalachicola.  But there is more to the story - a dam that was built in the 1960s and then removed in the 1980s.  Many trees were killed by the massive flooding, hence the name, but why it's plural I don't know.

Crystal, Sue, Jeff and I slowly weaved through the skeletal trees in search of shade and a swimming hole.  The day (yesterday) was a hot one which gave me opportunity to try out my experimental bimini-top shade extender over the bow deck of the jonboat.  Pieced together from Tyvek housewrap and electrical conduit pipe, it proved to be a lifesaver (well, at least skinsaver).

We explored northward from Wewahitchka.  Pretty soon we got used to the eery landscape and started noticing the abundant life in the Dead Lakes.  The lake was full of fish and birds, and probably gators, though we saw none.  And from the thousands of stumps, young cypress trees and other plants had sprung up.  Islands have formed.  We even found a sandy-ish beach where we picnicked and had a swim.  The water was around 85 degrees fahrenheit - Coldwater-Phobic-Jeff declared it perfect!
By hanging out in that spot, nature returned to her rhythms and the wildlife resumed its activities.  A pair of grackles repeatedly flew from their cavity nest carrying their nestling's fecal pellets out over the lake and dropping them.  An osprey dipped and weaved past us with several grackles in hot pursuit.  As one of the blackbirds pecked the raptor, the osprey dropped what had to be a baby grackle it had stolen from a nest.
Prothonotary warblers called all around us.  We saw two males fighting.  Later, one male came to the tree over our boat and proceeded to gather insects for his nestlings.  His beak was stuffed by the time he headed home.  Turtles sunned and plopped off logs, and all sorts of herons and egrets fished, flew, and posed for us.

Banks of clouds grew in the sky on this hot summer day, reflecting on the windless water surface... and life was good.

1 comment:

Capt. Ron said...

That warbler is fantastic...I need one. I've been seeing some around one of my tarpon hole. Guess I'll have to quit fishing for a while.