Dear readers…I have so much to post and have fallen a couple of weeks behind. The work a day world has been extra busy (and rewarding) of late. Still, I have made time to go to the river and “do my thing” to maintain my peace of mind. It’s time now to post my images and tell a story. The following post occurred two weeks a go when the river was high and I decided to spend the day in the western section of the Falls of the Ohio State Park. At this point, I was fairly certain that the materials I found and cached at my outdoor studio in the eastern section were either gone or the river was about to take them. I ventured forward-looking for “fresh” materials and opportunities.
My walk took me past the marvelous tree that the local kids (among others) like to use as a hang out. I can imagine many potential childhood memories centered around this tree for the folks who grew up with it. On this day everything was quiet and in fact I didn’t see anybody out here at all. That bodes really well if you want to see wildlife. It has been so unseasonably warm…that I wonder how that will affect how spring unfolds this year? Later we would set several records for high temps in the lower 80’s for early March!!! Technically, it’s still winter here…very odd indeed. I had heard that a pair of bald eagles were attempting to set up a nest in the far western section of the park and I was hoping to see at least signs of the birds. I wasn’t lucky on this day with the eagles, but I did come across a few other interesting wildlife objects courtesy of the Ohio River. For example, here’s the first goldfish I’ve found out here.
This fish stood out against the river pebbles like a red beacon. I could have found it with one eye closed! We have other invasive carp species out in the river now, but this was a new one. An actual goldfish probably wouldn’t stand much of a chance against the river’s natural predators. The non-native carp that have entered the river system eat constantly and grow really fast and large. It will be a great challenge to rid the river of them. I picked up the neon goldfish and dropped it into my collecting bag. Here’s what I came across next in the way of wildlife.
Swimming at the river’s edge I stumbled upon this golden sea turtle. It was playing among the bubbles and rootlets. Again, here was an image that was unnaturally beautiful…like the current weather. The pattern we have been experiencing is that the river will rise and then fall in quick succession as the Army Corps of Engineers regulates the water level for commerce and flood control. Walking even further west I came across this “elephant’s graveyard” of plastic and my heart sank. You can pick this stuff up all day long and it seems the next day gives you a fresh supply. Sometimes it feels like you are rolling that proverbial rock uphill only to have it roll back down. What’s happening up river from us?
As you can see…it’s not a pretty picture. Mostly plastic containers like old milk jugs and laundry detergent packaging. As this plastic weathers and breaks down from UV light, the pieces keep getting smaller and smaller without ever completely disappearing. The next stop could be the Gulf of Mexico. I found one other notable object and set it up among the still bare branches awaiting the new leaves of the year. This is also the first time I have come across one of these things.
It’s either an artificial palm or banana tree? As the day continued to warm I wondered to myself about how plants might be reacting to climate change? Are the warmer weather plants moving northwards and what else will this change? While I was musing on this I received an answer in a most unlikely form. My “banana palm” was visited by an unusual bird.
Here’s another first! Leave it to the only Banana Palm Mockingbird to find the only banana tree around here. I watched transfixed as the bird explored the tree and the surrounding area. A bird of this species is more likely to be seen in Central America than mid America. I don’t know much more about it. I saw it investigate the river’s edge for food and here are a couple more images to prove it was here.
Here’s the mockingbird with Louisville’s skyline visible on the opposite shore.
The mockingbird didn’t hang out for very long and soon it was time for me to head back. I’m going to be off for the next couple of days and will attempt to post more of my adventures…if the call of the river doesn’t get me first! Have a great weekend everybody!