The last part of summer 2015 has been the driest period that I've experienced since moving here to Louisiana in 1986. We saw just how dry when Lana and I took a walk yesterday at the Abita Springs Flatwood Nature Preserve.
A creek flows through the Flatwoods, which is primarily a pine savanna. Most years in late summer, the creek is no longer running but still has one large, deep, long pool, and a few smaller ones. We had noticed a week ago how low the main pool had gotten and how shortened it was. Yesterday we saw that it was down to quite a small mudhole and were saddened to see a bloat of dead fish all around its banks. I imagine they simply ran out of oxygen. (The following pictures are not pleasant to look at, but you can click on them to enlarge them.)
One thing you don't see in these pics, and I didn't know it was there until we got home and Lana started processing the images, is that there's a very much alive snake curled up under one of the logs. Last week we saw it catching what appeared to be a frog in the pool. You also don't see the numerous raccoon tracks in the surrounding mud.
In some ways, even sadder than the many dead fish were the fifty or sixty small catfish swimming aimlessly around and around in the remnant. Mudcats are tough but unless we get some rain in the next day or so they won’t make it either.
After seeing this, I walked about a few hundred yards along the creek and found not a single other pool. There were a few spots where the mud was still barely damp, but no other water at all. The animals that come to our yard are faring better because in addition to food we’ve been putting out water each day. Still, I hope we get some rain soon.