Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oh, Dam!

We were wondering how wet it might be in some of our local wandering places so this morning we went down to the lighthouse at the St. Marks National Refuge.

A week after Fay, there was water all along the road from start to finish. We checked the spill dam at the East River.

We usually walk across here.


Below is the East River Pool that was spilling over the dam into the river.


Here is the base of the dam. Little breaks in the concrete allowed extra foam to come out in the middle.



The north wind was fairly brisk and the foam blew off from the bottom far into the East River.


Apparently, the fishing had been good for some big birds here. As we approached we watched a bald eagle fly off. (Of course, I did not have my camera ready for the shot!)


The water was moving right along, but there was a good sized gator managing to stay in a calmer area, near where the water flowed into the river.


Closer to where we parked was another spill dam that has a bridge over it. At the water level below us, snails were clinging to the side of the wall. They were protected from the water's force but they were in a position to stay wet. Some were periwinkle shells.


Many bream and other fish were there and a carp was hanging around, sucking air--not sure why they do that.


There's more to this show and tell: the story will continue.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Quite the Puddle at Piney Z

We stopped at the little city park on Lake Piney Z this evening to check out the water status. This is the little dock. The water is over the dike before the dock even begins.


Hundreds of white birds were flying into an area across the lake. They looked like egrets, but it was really far. There could have been a mix.


This looks over at where the second dike is, the canoe launch. You don't see it, because it is under water.


This was taken from the canoe launch.


Past the signs of any grass, is a sign. We guesstimated that it stands four feet at the lower side of the sign.


The trail down to the canoe launch has evidence of recent tree removal. It was not this open before and the stump grinder woodchips are fresh.


Lake Piney Z and Lake Lafayette are twin lakes and they were in dire need of water. Well, they got it with Fay. Sadly, we read that one of the sewage leaks went into these lakes. In the picture above, B was looking for our son's wood duck boxes that were his Eagle Scout project. We didn't find them. It may be that we could not get into the right place to be able to spot them, due to the high water.

Martha Stewart Doesn't Live Here

A few years ago, when we were shopping for a freezer to replace our dying, small chest freezer, some friends offered us their old full-size standing one. We gladly brought it home and put it in our garage. Since then, when we weren't looking, it accumulated an ice collection that was rather impressive.


Early this morning, we emptied its contents into ice chests and B pulled it to the door of the garage to thaw. It took hours for it to all drip out. In the meantime, I began the cleaning of the corner of the garage it claims and the outside of the freezer itself. When it was thawed, I finished the wiping out of the inside and we left it to dry during lunch.


Now it is back in its corner, full of ice and food that is organized so that we can actually quickly find what we need. While Martha would not approve of the frequency of the defrosting, she might just give a thumbs up to the results of today's efforts.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


This beautiful Luna moth (Actias luna) was in our back yard last week. With the sun backlighting it, you can see the overlapping of both pair of wings.


Luna moths are strictly North American critters, but they are found in a broad area that excludes the Northwest U.S. and northwest Canada and most of Mexico. Even with this wide geographical area, seeing one is always a treat and unusual. They live only one week as adults. I wonder if this one lived to see the floods from Fay or if its eggs were affected by the rains. Adult Lunas do not eat or, for that matter, have mouths. In cold climates, only one generation is produced a year. Here, there is likely to be three. The female will lay between 100 and 300 eggs. No wonder they die within days!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Swallowtails and Snake Tails

Ever since the rains stopped, the butterflies have been all in the yard. I mean it is called a butterfly garden that we have out front where we observe them (and the hummingbirds) feeding from the flowers while we are feeding at our table. But there have been noticeably more since the rains.

I actually took my camera out to try and capture a cow ant--which, as far as I am concerned, is the only way to capture a cow ant-- but of course, it had better things to do than hang around waiting to have its picture made, and was nowhere to be seen when I got back. So since I was out there, I went to see what kind of butterflies I might "catch." Butterflies are not usually cooperative either when it comes to having their picture taken: they rarely sit still. These two swallowtails, did not come out so badly.



As I was taking the pictures, some movement caught my eye.

There within two feet of my two feet was a black racer snake.

As soon as I spotted him, he did what racers do: he zipped away. But then he had second thoughts, and eased back toward me. As he did, I could see his white chin, that is an identifying characteristic.

Apparently, I haven't learned much: I still had on my flip-flops.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fay's Hangover

It is the morning after. There are still a few bands of rain yet to arrive but at this time, we are holding at 20.75 inches of rain. We made a quick run to town this morning and found most roads we needed were open. We saw many trees and more large limbs had succumbed to the storm.  We also saw lots of water in both places it was supposed to be and plenty of places where it has never been seen before. We came back the route that I take to school each day. My lens fogged on the first picture. Here is some of the water along and in Buck Lake Road:


Water was flowing backwards from its usual Cross Creek flow.


This little creek (recently a dry ditch) on Chaires Cross Road usually flows toward the St. Marks River. Today it was going in the opposite direction towards Lake Lafayette.


It was all out in the woods but moving fast.


This swamp on Old St. Augustine Road has been dry for months now but it, too, was full and muddy today.


This was a sad sight near our neighborhood.


These three trees blew down just a block from us. As I said, we saw a lot of trees and limbs down this morning, but none that we saw had damaged homes or other buildings. There were some fences that  were damaged but otherwise it looked like the trees had fallen just right. We saw only one home--a mobile home-- that looked like it might have water in it.



We didn't lose any trees and only one large limb --and it was dead-- so we feel very blessed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Water War

With Fay on the way, B and I had a discussion at supper on Thursday about the water that typically floods our front walk and rises to cover the little front porch. That is from rains that present much less than was being predicted with this storm. He decided to set up 16' drain extensions to the gutters to help direct the water away from the house. For hours and hours, they have kept the flood off the porch.




It was only after we had had12.5 inches of rain since yesterday morning, (and it was still coming down harder than ever) that we became concerned about it coming in the door.


It was time for the sandbags to be put in place.



A very welcoming front entrance, don't you think?


Well, we have had 19 inches now since yesterday morning and the efforts have kept the water out of the door. We have had over 17 inches today.

B dug some trenches to allow a collected puddle to drain to the street.



We swept water down the walk with brooms to direct it down the driveway. No pictures of that. We were busy sweeping.

And still the rains came down.

Another few inches to pour out and record. The flash gives the impression the sun is shining. It has not been seen for the past two days.


Here is the front ditch where water never collects.


The swamp across the cul-de-sac that is usually hidden by trees, can now be seen as it has invaded the neighbor's yard more than half way to their house.


Here is our backyard's path:


And more backyard flooding. This is not a low area:



A son's boat's tarp held but required bailing a couple of times. B used a five gallon bucket. It was a lotta watta.


Critter update:

Despite the fact that the bird feeder took a hit and is in pieces, cardinals were there whenever it was not pouring to seek out a wet seed or two.


There are still at least seven goldfish in the pond and the water is clearer than it has been all summer.

And no toads have drowned in the pond.


We lost electricity for 4.5 hours this evening just as it was getting really dark. (It has been dark all day.) B read by the window and I worked on my school homework.


We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for supper and because it needed eating: ice cream. Tough job, but someone's got to do it.

All in all, we feel very blessed to have (up to this point) won the war with the water. Of course, it's still raining.

Toadally Soggy, Froggy Day

Well, we heard them first and went to investigate. We recognized it as a frog sound but it turned out to be American toads in our little goldfish pond by the door. There were three in there. These two had found a nice way to spend a rainy afternoon.


This guy was making most of the noise for a while.


While we watched, he tried to unseat the male in the couple.


We have known toads to drown in our pond, so B removed the single male.


The couple finished their snuggling and sang to each other for a while. Brrrrk, brrrrrk brrrk, brrrrrk!

The frogs in the swamp across the cul-de-sac can be heard above the constant rain from tropical storm Fay. We will need them with all the bugs that will be the result of the standing water. What we don't need, are the snakes that come for the frogs that eat the bugs (in the house that Jack built!) Hopefully, we will have enough hawks, owls and kites to take care of them!