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Thread: Swampy River Paddle, North Texas Photo Safari

  1. #1
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    Default Swampy River Paddle, North Texas Photo Safari

    Three middle aged friends and I paddled in a flooded area north of Dallas and Fort Worth early August, 2015. We saw a lot of water birds, fish, armadillo, heard some feral hogs but friends would not go chase them with me unfortunately. City temp was upper 90's but much cooler on the water and in the shade of the large trees and in the bush, high may have been 100F later but we got off by a little after 3pm. Access is strictly limited because of about 6 deaths due to flood waters in DFW area in the last few months. Hopefully soon we will be able to take some newbies on guided tours. A few tight bushy spots and log jams that I forgot to photograph put easy stuff compared to Louisiana and South America etc., I never even needed a knife or saw, but kayak was covered in debris, broken branches etc. Total trip less than 6 miles.

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    Snowy Egret, sorry for poor quality photos using old D10 Canon camera waterproof with poor quality lens not top dollar SLR etc. Sweat, sunscreen and water on lens does not help.
    http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/48/...owy_Egret.aspx

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    3 Blue Heron and one Snowy Egret on opposite bank, I saw at least 25 large Blue Heron but getting a good photo of them without a high powered lens is difficult they did not like people in bright yellow boats. Not certain about this exact species there were at least 2 species of blue heron in this area one larger than other I needed a better camera lens.
    http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/31/...lue_Heron.aspx

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    Bittern right after it landed it raised its fluffy crest but I was not able to get a photo of that, very disappointed. These are one of my favorite water birds, difficult to get a photo that shows how beautiful they really are.
    http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/33/...n_Bittern.aspx

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    Egret on dead tree with marsh in foreground, River in just behind that row of trees on a raised bank of dirt/clay which protects the marsh from getting washed away in the flood. Discharge was at 4570 cubic feet per second this day but at almost 20,000 C.F.S. May 30-31, 2015. Typically only about 100-300 C.F.S.

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    Giant Swallowtail Butterfly on a shrub/tree I forgot name of... there were a lot in bloom all over the place and these butterflies all over them. Thanks Batch for plant ID, I get names of Button Bush and Bottlebrush mixed up, totally different plants:

    http://aquaplant.tamu.edu/plant-iden...ex/buttonbush/

    http://www.foragingtexas.com/2006/12...rush-tree.html
    BTW this website has common sense guidelines on using plants when camping.

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    A new Blue Heron's nest in Cottonwood tree very close to a favorite camping spot that has been under water since last May. About 5-15 feet of water. My concern is that in 2-3 months when the Army Corps stops releasing so much water and humans begin camping nearby the Heron will move but that is just what happens. Below is a where more of these Heron roost a few miles down the river.

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    Blue Heron nests in large sycamore tree with black vultures below, photo taken in late winter of 2014
    Last edited by TXyakr; 08-11-2015 at 07:33 AM. Reason: added more links to photobucket & whatbird


  2. #2
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    Default Humans in the swamp

    Some photos with humans mucking up the place:

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    Trying to find out way out of the marsh/swamp back to the river. It is behind that row of mostly hackberry trees up on the high spot of land where all the water birds flew off to. Not fun to drag boats over land full of poison ivy, green briar etc. so a channel is best. My suggestion is look for willow trees. I held back took some photos listened for them to tell me it was a dead end. Hint, no willow trees.

    Hackberry trees may be useful if you are stuck in the wilderness and truly starving!!! On second thought going to see Jesus or oblivion may be a better option, LOL.
    http://www.foragingtexas.com/2007/07/hackberry.html

    Duckweed covers much of the water and is 25-45% protein, best to boil it first, this can be found in most marshes all across North America. Add a BUNCH of Tabasco sauce if you have it!
    http://www.foragingtexas.com/2006/08/duckweed.html

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    Cutting thru floating vegetation with a long narrow kayak. This plant looked a lot like want many people call "frog's fruit". My kayak was short and wide so I found the place around it that disturbed the least amount of plants.
    http://www.wildflower.org/plants/res...id_plant=PHNO2

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    Paddling up a creek that was flowing backwards from its normal flow direction due to high dam discharge. Where is all that water going to?

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    We each took turns "surfing" this tiny standing wave as the backwards creek filled this backwaters discharge "lake" normally dry beside "mount" Lewisville. Don't get me started on the foolishness of municipalities building landfills in bottomlands or this thread will get put in anything political section. BTW this huge "lake" dumped back into the river several miles down at a "break" in the earthen wall damaged by the historic flood back in May. So all the water going "UP" the creek and landfill run off does back into the river used by City of Dallas for drinking, OOPS! No one is meant to know that!!! Inlet to City of Dallas treatment is about 10 miles down river from here. Imagine all those pharmaceuticals from landfill Dallas folks are drinking? May explain their driving behavior.

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    Birds on Power Tower from same lines a few miles down river in a pond were we were providing water safety for Triathlon swimmers a few weeks earlier. River is just beyond that tree line.

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    My view of Tri-swimmers from a Water Polo kayak with rubber bumper on front so I don't injure any of the slower ones. Hey I do what I can to help. Seriously these are very maneuverable basically a white water kayak with bumpers on front and back.

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    We saw one of these (old photo from winter) I did not touch it for fear of leprosy and just getting my hands stinky.

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    Earlier the group encountered this hideous river hobo on a bright yellow SOT kayak wearing camouflage which is just ridiculous. This was in the old historic river channel which is only accessible by small boat when the water levels are very high. What looks like mowable lawn grass is just sprouts coming up thru floating debris, i.e. a log jam. If you are stealthy you can paddle in there and grab a cotton-mouth or wait for one to swim by and grab it. They smell bad, halitosis, but do not have leprosy.

    [IMG][URL=http://s296.photobucket.com/user/hangnhobo/media/IMG_6771_zpshjrkggxq.jpg.html]
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    This long bearded dude looks a little rough around the edges.

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    After going "down river" the slow backwaters way we decided to paddle up about 2+ miles the much more narrow main channel against most of the 4570 cfs being discharged by the dam. Not because this was wise but because it was a challenge and we are getting older and wish we were still young. Insurance still pays for some of the Chiropractor. Blah, Blah, Blah next time will do the loop the other way or take out a about 6 miles at bridge down river. Personally I thought I saw more eddies on "river right" so was over there taking this photo.

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    A woman in her 50's in a pink kayak that is not the long and narrow ideal kayak shape but short and fairly wide managed just fine so y'all have few excuses to just go with the flow. There was a 50 yard section under a bridge that was much more difficult than in this photo. She did not need a tow rope but I would bring one for newbies. I did not use any back support on my SOT kayak but it could have been a good idea for this hard paddling section. Back supports and comfy seats just prevent a person's backstrap muscles from fully developing and tend to get hung up on the brush when bushwacking in a kayak. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

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    Photo from 2 years or so ago. This bridge pier was built about 1865-1880? I think it was for a road from Lewisville to McKinney, Texas but that is highly debatable. Anyway somewhat historic for these parts. Paddled past a bunch of stones on river left and wondered why I had never noticed them before. Then got called back by friend. The May, 2015 floods had knocked over the top 10-20 feet of the 150+ year old pier. Very sad for some of us. The one on the other side of the river that is normally out of the water is still standing. The other folks got some photos of it. I was still in shock. Will try to get a photo of it and post it. Assume it is all knocked over will get a photo when the waters get lower in a few months. These things happen. Nothing made by humans lasts forever not even piles of trash or ruins.
    Last edited by TXyakr; 08-11-2015 at 07:59 AM. Reason: added more photos

  3. #3
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Very cool....Thanks for taking us along.
    So you are saying that willows mark outlets?.....Flowing water?...Interesting.

    Kinda laughed at the getting lost park....
    Canoeing at the confluence of then Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers....is a complete maze of water running all different directions.

    We literally portaged the canoe due east...over several channels and berms....as it was only about 100 yds. as the crow flies......lots of nasty stuff growing and slithering on those berms.....LOL
    Last edited by hunter63; 08-07-2015 at 12:13 PM.
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    Willows generally means it is low spot. But if you can see their distinctive leaves rising above or thru the others try to head in that general direction there may be a cut thru the banks that are separating one body of water from another. Many other trees can live in standing water for months and not die but most willows need to be in a low spot or they cannot last long dry periods. That is about the limit of my knowledge a tree expert could elaborate more. Also if you are hiking and absolutely no water willows and other trees like them may indicate a good place to start digging for water. Sycamore, cottonwood, pecan many more, but oak and juniper can go for much longer with no rain generally speaking, there is a wide range of oak species obviously.

    Slightly lost: We are never more than moderately lost in this area but it has been many years (6?) since it has flooded this nicely, so out of practice (many years of drought). Then several people in the DFW took unnecessary risks especially around spillways with the undertows/hydraulics and possibly got entrapped in log jams in fast moving water etc. This endangers Fire Departments and other responders trying to rescue or search for them. So even highly certified and experience people like my team are then restricted because of foolish people who take these risks. Some paddled alone without their PFDs (life vests) on. Don't get me started on that nonsense. I heard on the news that one guy was lost paddling in Downtown Fort Worth and days later they had not found his body. Track down every grouping of black vultures, most will just be dead animals but one will most likely be him, give his family closure.
    Last edited by TXyakr; 08-07-2015 at 02:04 PM. Reason: Slightly lost

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    Great pics. Thanks for taking us along!

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    Nice pics. Thanks for taking us along.
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    The butterflies love button bush. As do a lot of birds and animals.

    Willow is a telling plant here in the glades as well. It is one of the first trees to take a foot hold. So, if you are in a sawgrass marsh and look out and see willow (coastal plain willow). You can usually find a solution hole or gator hole in the center. These are called bay heads and after more peat is deposited around the roots other swamp trees like red bay (cousin to the California Bay you get your bay leaves from) take over. If these heads continue to grow because of deposits and there are no major fires. Overtime they will grow into a tropical hardwood hammock. With massive Ficus, and live oaks and cabbage palms and...

    Or, as you have experienced there, the agencies that "manage" the water will screw up the natural order of things. Our hydrology is so screwed up that many of the hardwood hammocks have drowned. The area of the glades closest to me, less than a mile, used to hold the highest number of deer in Florida. When they first built the levy system in the 1960's there was a massive deer rescue. The deer ran up on the levy to get away from the water and the hunters slaughtered them.

    Video of game wardens jumping deer from an airboat.

    https://youtu.be/X-gk4ZlQfjU

    A friend of mine lives on a man made island out there and he digs up soft shell turtle nests that are in danger of drowning and he hatches them and releases them. They continue to increase the water levels.

    This is his go fund page. I have posted pictures and video on him on here before.

    http://www.gofundme.com/SaveTheTurtles2A

    Out an uncountable number of sloughs in the historical everglades only one slough still has a natural hydrological sheet flow and that is Mullet Slough in the center.


    Sorry, I guess I got off on a tangent there. Just as frustrating for us here as it is for you and I am sure many others.


    Thanks for taking us along!

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    Default Baking in the sun this Saturday

    Thanks Batch! There are smaller marshes and swampy areas all over North America my father from Alberta, Canada referred to them as sloughs. The two that I have never been to and are high on my list are Atchafalaya River area and the Florida Everglades.

    This past Saturday was much less exciting I was at Windsurfer Bay on Lake Ray Hubbard, Garland Texas at Dawn by 6:20 am took a few photos then and at sun rise, provided water safety for a triathlon swim practice set out buoys in line with the rising sun to blind the swimmers as requested by their coach. Some races are like that. FYI, It ain't an easy sport.

    Then by 9 am I was at White Rock Lake and "chosen" to provide water safety for some people using kayaks to collect trash out of the vegetation along the sides of the lake there until noon. A lot of time on the water and I forgot to put on sun screen so I am fairly tan now, but no sun burn. Some folks at LRH rented kayaks for the day (high was about 103F) they said it was just a warm, not a hot day. They were from Saudi Arabia. Fairly mild weather for the Persian Gulf...

    I will post some photos when I can. Next 2nd Saturday I and a friend may have a trailer down at Jackson point at WRL, Dallas. Busy day with Tri swim 6:30 - 8 then clean up 9-noon at a lake 30 minutes away and pick up trailer with kayaks from warehouse in between. All the cool kids from our group will be paddling WW kayaks and support rafts about 280 miles from Lake Powell to just above Lake Mead on the famous Colorado River (GC NP). I got left off this trip, very disappointed, but will get over it. Sign up for lake clean up on Meetup dot com or get a permit for Grand Canyon and invite me if you win that lottery, PLEASE!!!! LOL I almost never win those NPS or BLM lotteries. My theory is they see Texas address and toss in round file or shred it. Dang Texans!!
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    Dawn 6:20 am at Lake Ray Hubbard Looking North East from parking lot area toward end off sea wall/ pier before unloading kayak etc.

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    Sunrise 6:50 am before setting out buoys, one swimmer was warming up so I tried not to get his tiny swimsuit in the frame, it was a little disturbing. LOL Coach forgot to bring electric pump for buoys I was a little winded and light headed from that. Bike pumps are a waste of time.

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    At White Rock Lake, Dallas. People are already starting to show up. The hotter it gets the more people like to paddle, go figure. Several large groups and many individuals came and we only had 15 boats a few tandems, not sure if we will even bring boats next month, I hope so but it will be a lot of work and fun. People taking turns. Fun thing is only one person turned over and I was around the bend of lake did not see it. People on shore told the the guy just stand up. He swam a little bit more toward shore and stood up, no problem, got back on. Very polluted lake but I still dip my body up to neck just to cool down my core several times then shower off as soon as I get home. Most likely will get killed in an auto accident regardless so what the heck. LOL

    I saw a beautiful tall egret fishing on this lake but did not have a WP camera or phone with me (not sure which species, there are several egrets that look similar). Even a lake in a large city like this has some great birds sometimes. Many good websites and I have several good field guides but rarely take one with me. Here is a good website that I like: Whatbird dot com

    http://www.whatbird.com/browse/objs/...s/default.aspx
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    Last edited by TXyakr; 08-11-2015 at 08:11 AM. Reason: added photos and dry humor

  9. #9
    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    nice country
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

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