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HomeNL-2015-05 Armand's Bayou

Armand Bayou
March 7th & 24th, April 21st, 2015
by Dave Kitson

  Armand Bayou Map

March 7th  - Finally, upstream was open! The water hyacinth had been totally clogging the upstream river at the bridge for a good 8 months but finally on this day it was open so that was the direction to head. Just beyond the bridge on the left side I saw a family of feral hogs, Mom, Dad and 3 piglets. I stopped paddling and let the wind blow me to the bank and since I was just drifting Mom did not realize that I was anything threatening so I was able to get very close for a great view. She was knee deep in the water nosing around the water hyacinth. When she finally saw me she gave a snort and walked off into the forest. I was able to make it all the way to the abandoned “Bridge” but from here on it was total water hyacinth which forced me to turn around and head back downstream. I took a side trip up Big Island Slough and then stopped at the park to rest my back before heading downstream for a ways only to be treated to quite a spectacle. There was a group of 6 brown pelicans and 3 or 4 osprey hunting. Both groups made repeated dives into the water while I watched. I think a couple of the pelicans caught something but I did not see any of the osprey make a successful dive. As I paddled around I was looking in the water to try to see what they were hunting for, but never saw even one fish. Finally it was time to head back. The trip ended up at 9.0 miles and 4.1 hours.

March 24th - Will Blumentritt and I set out upstream to see if any more of the bayou was open and found that the water hyacinth was gone from the abandoned bridge so we continued on. We were able to go all the way to the power easement and then just continued on out of the park. We continued on and on and on almost 1 mile beyond the distance either of us had ever been before. We turned around about a mile beyond the power easement and only turned around there because Will had a time constraint. One the way upstream we saw 14 gators, a new record for me. Several of the medium size gators were behaving a little unusually. Normally when a gator sees you it jumps in the water and heads to the bottom never to be seen again. These were jumping in the water but then coming to the surface and remaining there until we got closer when they would slash their tail and spin around and go underwater. I suspect they were females with a nest back on the bank. This trip was 9.8 miles and 4 hours.
April 24th - I wanted to check out the eagle situation on this trip and since I was in my canoe and there was an 11 mph wind forecast I decided to head over to Horsepen first. As I approached the entrance I saw the chick had fledged and was out practicing it’s soaring. It looked to me to be doing a great job, I would have given it a 10 but don’t really know what the point system is for eagle soaring. It is now a full sized bird although it will be a while before it has the white head and tail. It stayed around the nest; going at most ½ mile north and south of that point but did not land while I watched. I actually decided to park and eat my lunch and watch the show. As I watched a couple of osprey showed up and one of them dive bombed the chick. No damage seemed to have been done and the osprey headed off to the north. I then headed back up Armand Bayou proper. I decided to take the route around the left side of the little island just north of the bridge. As I went around a medium sized gator jumped in the water a little ways ahead of me and instead of going underwater stayed on the surface and headed parallel to the island toward me. We passed on opposite tracks with the gator between me and the island. I expect it was a female protecting a nest. I was able to paddle all the way to the top of the park at marker 26 and then take the stream there to Red Bluff before heading back. The alligator population was a little smaller on this day, I only saw 10. This trip ended at 9.2 miles and 4 hours.

I did not take my camera on any of these trips so you all will just have to check it out yourselves.

Will Blumentritt's photo album: Here

The author, Dave Kitson