7.15.2010

Nature At Work

Last hitch I noticed what appeared to be Purple Martins, edit(they turn out to be cliff sparrows) darting back and forth from a 'mud flat' to the concrete platform which was behind us. I grabbed my camera, walked to the back deck and was able to take these pictures of these hard working birds, before my lens fogged up.

I had never noticed Martins (cliff sparrows) in the wild before and wasn't aware they built mud nests like that, but Darby, the boat's mate, said he had seen a special television show about them nesting like that under the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. They were fascinating to watch, to be sure.

While we were still tied up at that location, just after sunset as it was getting dark, my tankerman stepped out for a smoke and almost stepped on a coon who was exploring our deck for goodies. I couldn't tell who scared who the most, but they both screamed and ran in opposite directions. Every night after that while we were there, we had to put all our garbage in the engine room and 'dog' the doors closed. The heat from the engine room didn't help with the smell any, but it sure beat having to pick it back up again after this character had his way with it.


I was sitting in the wheelhouse when I saw this fella trying to sneak aboard, so I opened the door and hollered at him, and he beat a hasty retreat under the platform.



I am sure he is the reason the Martins were not nesting under there, but instead they were under the much higher living quarter platform behind me. Their nests were located where the coons couldn't reach them.
While "standing by" for the locks on the River one morning, a squawking commotion caught my attention. It turned out that a seagull had a pretty good sized fish in his mouth and was being chased around by twenty or so of his loud, screeching bretheren. They kited around for awhile 'til finally the gull eluded the chase and landed on our barge.



He struggled in vain to swallow the fish for awhile when outa nowhere swoops a Greater Egret; pounces down and snatches the prize from the frustrated seagull.





Even though the Egret was larger than the Gull, it took him awhile to swallow the breakfast treat as well.




You can see in this picture that it took the fish awhile to travel down the Egret's long and normally slender neck.
As long as I been working on boats ya would think I'd get tired of stuff like this, but I am my Father's son. He instilled in me a great joy and appreciation of nature, and I never tire of seeing it when I'm at work.
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