There have been better outings

picnic area at Jordan lake
This will be the first of two posts about recent photos – they were far enough apart thematically, and I’ve been slow in posting anyway, so I’m breaking them up even though they will likely post within hours of one another (and before the next ‘On This Date’ entry.)

Yesterday, Mr Bugg wanted to do an outing to Jordan Lake, and I was a little skeptical because of the recent heavy rains, but he’s paying the fees, he calls the shots. And it was far worse than I feared. The photo above illustrates one of the little picnic areas; the trees towards the back in the center mark the normal water’s edge, I think, but there might even have been a beach margin that put the waterline further out. Regardless, all of the trails, and indeed half of the publicly accessible areas, were well under water, so no hiking out there for a bit.

lone tree deep in floodwaters of Jordan Lake
We did what we could, but with virtually no access beyond the parking lot and no bird activity, there remained few photos to chase.

Well, little bird activity.

trio of double-crested cormorants Phalacrocorax auritus perched on swimming barrier
Here, the double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) in the center tries to smooth over an impending breakup. And this close to Valentine’s Day, too.

Okay, maybe not.

They’re perched, by the way, on the floating barrier that marked the swimming area, but I’m pretty sure one end had dislodged from shore, because it was damn far out and didn’t seem to be enclosing anything, yet it was still handy for the birds to perch on and dry out between fishing sessions.

The erosion around Jordan lake is extensive, largely because this kind of thing happens once a year, give or take (it’s raining right now as I type this, a day after these pics were taken.) Development in the area speeds runoff – parking lots and housing developments drain most of the water that would have been retained by woods and underbrush, and the lake is maintained by a dam to provide water for the area, but it only flows out so fast and in many cases is restricted at that, to prevent flooding downstream. But lake levels that change this drastically hammer the shit out of the vegetation at the edges, which die off or even fall away as the soil is washed out, so ‘stable’ is not the way to describe the lake margins. This was illustrated more when we went to another portion just to check it out.

Al Bugg standing knee-deep in floodwater at head of boat launch approach
It didn’t take much to talk Mr Bugg into posing in the water in February – he finds any excuse to go wading anyway. He’s at the head of the maneuvering circle that fronts the boat ramps, completely submerged behind him, while the trees to the left mark one of the points that we often explore. In fact, that post just visible over his left shoulder is well over two meters tall, if I remember correctly. We pass these things all the time, but don’t note just how tall they are.

Not done yet. We went along to the other boat ramps nearby – the first has now been purposed towards hand-launched craft like kayaks and (sigh) paddleboards, mostly because these fluctuating levels were silting in the ramp areas, but the second set has a higher approach and deeper clearance.

Mr Bugg shooting from low on boat ramp at Jordan Lake in December 2019
This is from December when we were chasing sunset pics, not very successfully, and he was trying for a creative angle. No, he’s not chimping, because I’ve told him repeatedly to break that habit so naturally he wouldn’t dare do this where I could see him, at least.

(If you are unaware of this term, ‘chimping’ refers to checking the LCD on the back of the camera immediately after taking a shot, something that burst forth with the switch to digital. It tells you nothing effective, of course, because the LCD is too small and too badly calibrated to indicate anything crucial, plus it looks very unprofessional to keep checking. So no, he’s clearly not doing this.)

And now, a comparison photo from yesterday, pretty much the same position.

Mr Bugg wading into water at head of flooded boat ramp on Jordan Lake, February 2020
Mind you, I hadn’t even suggested he get into the water this time, so stop tsking at me – that’s all him. But I want you to notice something else. The boat ramps float, anchored at a fixed point on shore, so they can stay with the fluctuating levels. In December, they were sloped down significantly, the drop hitting at least two meters, while yesterday they actually sloped up a little from the anchor.

floating ramps on Jordan Lake almost submerged at fixed end
And one more.

great blue heron Ardea herodias perched alongside snag in November 2019
This one dates from November, but I posted a variation of it in December, sans the boat ramp back there because it didn’t add anything to the composition – unless you’re trying to show the boat ramp. It’s the same ramp that I was standing on for the photos further up – well, not the exact same, but the one alongside it. This was taken from the other ramp area, the first pictured (not) in this post. I couldn’t do a comparison image from yesterday because I would have had to have been treading water to get the right angle as it was, plus there was nothing to see – the entire snag and everything around it was invisible, totally submerged. And when it does re-emerge, it’ll likely look different as the water shifted the driftwood and perhaps added some.

And before you ask, no, that’s not a cormorant surfacing at the feet of the heron, but just another stub of the driftwood. I had to go to the full-resolution version to confirm this, though.

So, yeah – not really the most productive outing when most of the shots are illustrating how bad the conditions were. But part two is soon to follow, unless you’re reading this after it already posted and it appears above this one in the page lineup, so you already know what that held.

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