NANFA-- bama wanderings

Bruce Stallsmith (
Sat, 14 Apr 2001 20:26:48 -0400

I did a swing around my home county of Madison, in Alabama, today with all
of my stream gear but never got in the water. We've had so much rain here
that the streams are all _way_ high. At one of my favorite places, Mountain
Fork of the Flint River, so much water was coming through that there was a
sustained low roar. This is a spot where I've seen Casper Cox snorkeling
with just barely enough water to float him; not today! And the main stem of
the Flint River nearby was up its banks, a good 2 meters higher than I've
ever seen it.

This is the northeast corner of the county, just south of the Tennessee
line. I drove some back roads to the west to check out streams I haven't
seen for a while. My destination was Brier Fork of the Flint River, the
westernmost tributary to the river. This flows down out of Tennessee and is
home to a Federally Threatened species of darter, the slackwater darter
(Etheostoma boschungi). I've never seen a slackwater. But it's always
fascinated me because they need lands surrounding around their stream to go
through sustained flooding in the spring so that they can lay eggs on the
forest floor and their young begin life on the flooded forest floor, like
many Amazonian fishes. Adults also are known to migrate upstream to suitable
flooded areas. Brier Fork and all of its tributaries are in full flood, and
I found some of the fish collection sites mentioned in a booklet on the fish
published by the Geological Survey of Alabama. I didn't go after fish, but I
did photograph the habitat.

So, it was a fun safari. And it's raining again right now.

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, AL

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