NANFA-- Birmingham, AL, trip...Take 2...

Rose Lawn Museum (
Wed, 30 Oct 2002 11:27:51 -0500

Hi All

After 3 1/2 weeks delay (sorry), here is the trip report from 10/5 & 10/6/02:

On Saturday morning, still stinging from the remarks of a certain
young lady on the list concerning how our collecting trips are only made up
of middle-aged men, several of us greybeards began gathering at the home of
not-quite-middle-aged Stott Noble. Anticipating our arrival, Stott and his
lovely wife laid out a wonderful Southern breakfast that included biscuits
& gravy, eggs, and some of Stott's homemade sausage. What a feast!

Totally out of character, I was first to arrive, after flying down
I-20 through a sea of cars headed for the GA/AL game, most of which sported
dual flags bearing team logos. Next came NANFA President Bruce Stallsmith
from Huntsville, AL, site of the 2003 NANFA Convention. Stott's
brother-in-law, Kelly, made his appearance right after Prez. Finally,
Casper (if they're not here in 5 minutes, let's leave without 'em) Cox
rolled in from Chattanooga, TN. The reason for his unusual tardiness
quickly became apparent, as he began to display some trophy mushrooms he
had collected along the way.

After breakfast, Stott's tiny daughter Susanna also shared her plastic
toy food with us. She's already learning her way around the fish world. As
we stood gazing into the living room aquarium, she pointed to a fish and
said, "That's a longear sunfish." Her ID was correct. Way cute kid! She was
not pleased at being left behind. After condensing the caravan down to
three vehicles, we headed out to the first site of the day.

Cahaba River at Cahaba Beach, Jefferson Co., AL:

At that location we found...

largescale stoneroller (Campostoma oligolepis)
Alabama shiner (Cyprinella callistia)
tricolor shiner (C. trichroistia)
blacktail shiner (C. venusta)
silverstripe shiner (Notropis stilbius)
riffle minnow (Phenacobius catostomus)
creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus)
Alabama hog sucker (Hypentelium etowanum)
black redhorse (Moxostoma duquesnei)
blackspotted topminnow (Fundulus olivaceus)
mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis)
undescribed sculpin (Cottus sp. cf. carolinae)
green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
bluegill (L. macrochirus)
longear sunfish (L. megalotis)
redspotted sunfish (L. miniatus)
redeye bass (Micropterus coosae)
redspot darter (Etheostoma artesiae)
Alabama darter (E. ramseyi)
Mobile logperch (Percina kathae)
blackbanded darter (P. nigrofasciata)

Cahaba River, at that point, was a clear stream with a moderate
current, flowing over smooth stones. It provides part of the drinking water
for the City of Birmingham. In the open water we found tons of AL
hogsuckers. While the others enjoyed excellent success kick seining in the
riffles, I chased blackspotted topminnows near the surface of the deeper
pools along the shore. Stumbling over a submerged log, I accidentally
splashed the digital camera, fogging the lens for the remainder of the day.
I had only taken a few pix before that blunder. Fortunately, Prez brought a
film camera along.

Suddenly, we heard a familiar voice from the shore, and out of the
bushes stepped young Dave Neely (Tuscaloosa, AL). Twenty-something Dave has
been feverishly working on his doctoral dissertation, and it had been some
time since any of us had seen him. Rescuing our trip from being yet another
gathering of the ancient ones, he broke out the backpack shocker and
started making the fish dance.

It was apparent by the rope swing hanging from a nearby tree that one
of the larger pools also served as a swimming hole for the locals. One of
them arrived just before we left, putting the swing to good use. His dog
(looked like a black Lab, but I'm sure it was a Fish Retriever!) joined him
for a swim. Later, a couple of mud-splattered ATV riders stopped to watch
us from the bridge.

We could have spent the whole day there, it was such a great spot. It
was close to 4PM by the time we reached our second stop.

Turkey Creek at Tapawingo Spring, Jefferson Co., AL:

We collected/observed...

largescale stoneroller (C. oligolepis)
striped shiner (Luxilus chrysocephalus)
silverstripe shiner (N. stilbius)
creek chub (S. atromaculatus)
Alabama hog sucker (H. etowanum)
black redhorse (M. duquesnei)
golden redhorse (Moxostoma erythrurum)
green sunfish (L. cyanellus)
bluegill (L. macrochirus)
longear sunfish (L. megalotis)
redeye bass (M. coosae)
spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus)
undescribed sculpin (Cottus sp. cf. carolinae)
vermilion darter (Etheostoma chermocki) [Fed. Endangered]
watercress darter (E. nuchale) [Fed. Endangered]
blackbanded darter (P. nigrofasciata)

Our site at Turkey Creek put us right at the mouth of Tapawingo
Spring. As the rest of the group worked downstream, Casper and I donned the
wetsuits to use the remaining daylight for snorkeling. The right fork of
the stream apparently led directly to the spring, as the water was ice
cold! Casper was braver than I, so I thankfully yielded that side of the
fork to him, while I took the wider fork of the main stream where the water
was much more to my liking.

Time underwater just vanishes at an astonishing rate, and I'm afraid I
kept the others waiting longer than I meant to do. It's kinda' like surfing
the Web...who knows where the time goes? Being snorkelers themselves, they
didn't beat me for it. I had taken along the underwater disposable camera,
but the light was too poor to attempt any serious shots.

Once again, we loaded up the cars and struck a path for a location
that shall remain a secret in order to protect the soon-to-be-listed rush
darters that live there. On the way, Prez and I listened to the radio to
hear the Dawgs polish off 'Bama. Dave led us to the most unlikely looking
place (he's got a real knack for that!), and in moments we were looking at
the beautiful rush darters. It's a shame to think that suburban sprawl may
put these little guys out of business. I really regretted not having the
use of the camera at that point.

We observed...

largescale stoneroller (C. oligolepis)
striped shiner (L. chrysocephalus)
creek chub (S. atromaculatus)
rush darter (Etheostoma phytophilum) [Fed. candidate]

Weary and hungry, we returned to Stott's house to prepare for the
evening feast. This guy can really cook! He made something called (I think)
"beer can chicken." Since I don't cook anything beyond the survival level
(I can burn water!), I'll leave it to one of the others to accurately
desribe the method. However it worked, it was delicious!

The evening was one of those late-summer gems for which the South is
famous. We adjourned to the carport so that our noise would be out of the
range of young Susanna, who was off to bed. The talk lasted well into the
night, with the sort of twisted humor one might expect from a group of
musicians, fishheads, artists, and scientists...somewhere between Einstein
and Dr. Demento. Raccoons periodically approached from the darkness to
inspect us. Rather than allowing Dave a much-needed break from his studies,
I'm afraid we picked his brain for every bit of fish knowledge we could
glean. We detained Prez just long enough to ensure that he'd be in trouble
when he got home before we allowed him to split for Huntsville.

Since I had to leave early the next morning (work interfering with
fish once again!), I retired to the nice couch Mr. & Mrs. Noble had
prepared for me in the computer room, and went into screen saver mode. I
left soon enough the next day to wade through the NASCAR traffic around
Talladega and still make it to work on time. The others will have to fill
you in on Sunday's activities. Wish I coulda' hung out longer!

Thanks, Stott!

All The Best,
Steven A. Ellis
Kennesaw, GA
/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,