[Bristol-Birds] Paddle creek after rain Aug 18-19 2010

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 22 Aug 2010 23:16:31 -0400

(Above) Starting at fullpool on Mon, 16 Aug 2010, the
Paddle Creek Pond was pulled to begin to expose this
much mudflat in 24 hrs. by Tuesday, 17 Aug, at noon.
This was an intentional drawdown for our attempt at
shorebird habitat management at Paddle Creek Pond.

(Above) The rainfall of 18 Aug 2010 raised the level
about 2 inches which was surface runoff.  Notice the
plants at the top left are back in the water and they were
out in the 17 Aug photo.

(Above) an early morning rainfall of just over one inch,
which fell in the area about 4 a.m. Sunday, raised the 
Paddle Creek level back to full pool.  

The difference in the top level and bottom level is that
the pond gained about 4 inches of water level since
it was lowered last Monday and Tuesday.

With waterlevel management for shorebirds / waders,
it is apparent that we only need about 8 inches of 
drawdown to good habitat.  This is probably doable
in just three days but more rain is predicted by Wednesday.

Wet mudflats are highly desirable at this location and
probably so at other such habitats.  So fluctuation is
our friend.  When we draw down to extensively expose
the mudflats, excellent habitat is produced if timed with
migration dates and migration weather.

If the mudflats begin to dry, they will not draw stopover
from shorebird migrants.  But we will refill and then 
draw the pond down to again expose mudflats and
see how long we can sustain the proper nutrients,
animals and such.  Can we keep the desirable food
that shorebirds are finding there or does the drying
out destroy that resource for the remainder of the

Paddle Creek is a small project.  It is good for a
steady stream of a few good birds each season
but the numbers of shorebirds and waterbirds will
probably never be large.  It is a convent place to
check in a and hour or so.

We are face with a somewhat similar shorebird habitat
issue at Musick's Campground on South Holston Lake
but we do not control any aspect of what happens:

 Notice the slight up turn of the red line on the
 graph.  The red line indicates the changing water
 levels at South Holston until this hour.  The little
 up turn represents almost a foot of lake 
 level increase.  The pond just to the left of the
 driveway leading to the outer viewing area went
 dry about a week ago.  Then water came back in
 with rainfall.  The lake level dropped and it 
 dried again. After the early Sunday morning
 rainfall, it has water once again.  

 But this change in the pond is producing nothing
 for the birdlife.  A few shorebirds and egrets are
 in and around this area of Musick's Campground
 but none of them are using the pond.  The 
 first drop in water level and drying of that pond,
 wiped out any small fish and other animal life
 and the pond is no longer a food source for the
 birds.  The water for this pond is seeping in 
 underground from the rising lake level and surface
 runoff from rain.  This produces no food.  We'll
 keep and eye on this to see if this is correct.

 The small pond at the upper end of the outer
 banks at Musick's has been covered again with
 water.  However, whatever small fish and such
 getting trapped there could possible be replenished
 by the rising and falling of the lake level.  It has
 not attracted much birdlife and that suggest it was
 without much food on the first drawdown.

 In the big picture, a sudden rise at Musick's from
 the heavy rains can just delay the eventual drying
 out of this area and cause the attractive life of
 the shoreline to extend well into September or
 later.  We'll learn more as the season progresses.

 We have nearly eight weeks of tropical storm 
 season left in the south Atlantic and about the
 same amount of shorebird migration.  So the 
 season may just be getting underway at Musick's
 with some good birding ahead.

 Let's go birding . . . .

 Wallace Coffey
 Bristol, TN


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  • » [Bristol-Birds] Paddle creek after rain Aug 18-19 2010 - Wallace Coffey