Hey, gang. Andrew here. This is kind of a side post just to document the updates to Net 21. The copious rains over the past two months have allowed the vegetation to grow like crazy. We spent a couple of days clearing the net lanes so we were ready to begin last Sunday. Net 21 was technically open for business but I couldn't stop thinking of ways to improve the surrounding. Starting to consume me, actually.
Net 21 is at the end of our net lanes. It runs between the river and what becomes a swampy marsh when the lake backs up. Willows and Maples are the main features out here but invasive plants are trying to stake a claim and the dips in the path often fill with water to cut us off from time to time. I wanted to start with more plant clean-up first. Just look at all that mess! Can barely see the river at the bottom right.
Here is the view from the other end. Besides tidying up the willows that are closest to the net, my main focus was on that clump in the middle of the river. Skunk vine and Day Flowers overtook a willow and bent it over the river, slowing the flow through there.
I cut the base of the willow trunk and pulled for what seemed like 10 minutes. The weeds were staying in place but eventually the willow came free. It was dead. Why were the weeds still in a clump? I poked around and could feel another trunk in there. I used a post to beat the weeds off of the trunk beneath and once I snagged them from the river, to my surprise, up popped a Cypress tree! I don't recall a Cypress ever being there.
The Cypress should straighten over time with any luck. It will make a nice addition along the trail. I set about marking the area I was most concerned with with rebar and pink tape. The river takes that little curve which is right by where the net runs. If a bird goes in there it is a bit more of a chore to extract. Some fear they will fall in the river.
My plan is to fill in the area to the left of the tape with dirt to make a stable area to stand and it would connect the land areas already in place. That yellow bucket in the background would be my steady companion for the next couple of hours.
Another look back shows the curve to be filled a little better. I also set the net and you can see how close it is to that area with the water level this high. Most of the year the water is much lower.
Since I would be walking back and forth regularly for the rest of my stay I decided to stop stepping in the water that had filled another part of the trail. I spent a bit of time carving out more willow and vines. Now walking to the far left would keep my feet dry. If they weren't wet already...
Once I began hauling dirt to the area and pouring it along the edge all sorts of wildlife took notice. Minnows picked at any morsels that slipped out and at least a dozen species of spiders rushed in to take care of the rest. One of the more impressive ones was this Six-Spotted Fishing Spider (Dolomedes triton). They would just sit by the dirt or on the water until my next round of soil forced them to move to a new location nearby.
I started with the shallow side and began to make a dent. Problem is, the closest available dirt is about 100 yards or so back through the woods.
A couple hundred pounds of dirt later, I called Phase One complete. Now I just have to hope that the rain backs off a little to let the stuff settle. I have no idea how easily it might wash away. Wondering if I could get some sort of barricade in the water to prevent quick erosion.
One last thing I did today was tape off part of the trail leading out to Net 21. The last time the river got very high a couple months ago it coaxed a few bank-side trees into it. The normal trail is now a bit treacherous and I don't need anyone breaking an ankle getting through there.
To make up for that, I cleared the area to the right for a wider trail away from danger.
Exhausted, I pulled the wagon full of gear all the way back to the banding table, rested for a few minutes and headed home. I think it went pretty well. If nothing else, the trimming will last for quite awhile, even if the fill dirt doesn't.
Of course, if anyone else has another thought about making the footing in that area secure...
Next (planned) Banding Day: Sunday, August 11th.
All nets will be opened by 6:15 A.M.