Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Is salinity testing boring?

Not on your life!  At least not for me.  Come along with me on yesterday’s adventure on the refuge.  I picked up fellow volunteers, Barbara and James, as I left the RV pads.  They were interested in going along with me since I would be on one of the roads not open to the public while I went about my testing.  (the last two pictures tonight, and any with me in them were taken by them even though they’ll have my watermark)

64 Anahuac NWR 201110

First stop was down by the bay.  After a walk through some cow plops, we made it to the water structure of Ditch #1.  The probe is dropped to the bottom of the waterway and then raised a couple of inches off the bottom.  We take three readings at each stop to get an average.

64 Anahuac NWR 201112

Since I had help with me, we shared the duties.  The readings turned out saltier than last week, and the water was flowing in the opposite direction.  Tides do play a factor in these readings.  As you can see in the left hand picture, I bring my walking stick along to help me maintain my balance as I climb up onto the water structure.  Staff adjusts the openings in these structures to change water flow.

64 Anahuac NWR 201111

The second stop was at a popular crabbing location on the refuge.  After we took our readings here, I talked to some of the folks to find out more about the fine art of crabbing.  Having grown up in the Midwest, I knew nothing about it.


Luckily, this gentleman was more than willing to educate me about the process.  The first thing you do is toss a string with a chicken leg tied to the end into the water.  Then you let it rest there a while.


              After soaking for a bit, you gingerly pull on the string to see if there is any resistance.

IMG_0274If there is, you slowly pull the string in and get your net ready.  If you pull too fast, the crabs let go of the chicken leg.


If you know what you’re doing, you scoop the net under the end of the string to catch the crab.  This one scoop resulted in four crabs on that one chicken leg!  Then you toss the leg back into the water and begin the whole process again.


Then you toss the crabs into a cooler.  I asked the man what he did with all of these blue crabs.  He boils them, and then picks out the meat to add to his shrimp and sausage gumbo.  As I’ve said before, learning something new each day makes life interesting._MG_4425You always see something new on the roads in the refuge, and yesterday was a day for pelicans.  We didn’t see one pelican along here last week.


                               This week the pelicans were around every curve, both white and brown.


We also had the treat of finding some roseate spoonbills in the marsh.  Pink is not a color often found in birdland.  That coloring is the result of the shrimp that they eat.


One thing remained the same on this road however.  If you step out of the vehicle, you will surely be most popular with the mosquitoes!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy


  1. And the stinkier the fish, the better the crabs like it. That last picture made me cringe. But what do you do with the results of your tests?

  2. What a beautiful post. I miss the spoonbills but not the mosquitoes. Haven't seen or heard one since I've been up here.

    Before I left, people were catching crabs north of the I-10 bridge, due the the saltwater intrusion from the tides. It must be much worse now.

  3. Great pictures of those mosquitoes--you weren't kidding about their numbers!

  4. I think I would have followed that feller home for a taste of the shrimp and sausage gumbo. Great post. Now I've learned something.

  5. When I was a kid in Orange Beach AL, I would lie on the pier with a string, but no chicken leg...just a little something. Now, I know what was wrong with my method. I need to go crabbing again....

  6. Too bad you can't use some of them pesky meeses as crab bait!

  7. I love the spoonbill photos - you see so many different kinds of birds. Great photos today, as usual. Very interesting about the crabbing. Crab is so expensive here, I haven't bought a crab in years. I'd love to throw out a chicken leg and catch four at once!

  8. I guess the testing is not boring as long as you get to do the rest of it:)

  9. good thing your sweatshirt is thick!..otherwise you would have been busy scratching tonight!!

  10. Would not be a good spot for me... Those mosquitoes would eat me alive. As always your pictures are beautiful.

  11. I hope that was a good thick sweatshirt! They sure look like they were after you.

  12. I like the part about the crabs,but you can keep the mosquitoes.

  13. I'm not much or a crab fancier, but Suzy is and she has made sure I learned to enjoy a little bit once in a while. We have only seen spoonbills once, while we were touring southern Louisiana. We were fascinated! Thanks for bringing them back to us today.

  14. Whether this reflects on my own state of being or not, I'm unsure . . . but . . . when I first glanced at the title I thought it said "Is sanity testing boring?" Teehee!

  15. I used to go crabbing every Friday night in the Linkhorn Bay when I lived and worked at the beach in Virginia Beach. But I never caught 4 on one chicken leg in all the years I lived there. WOW!

    Would those mesh clothes work to keep the mosquitos at bay? At least the head gear piece to keep them off of your face and neck? Mostquitos in December - good grief!

  16. That pink Flamingo shot in the tall grass has a lot of potential:))

  17. What an interesting post. Loved all the shots of the birds. Pelicans are one of my favorite birds, and the Spoonbills are beautiful.

  18. Fascinating way to crab!
    You get 4 crabs and can reuse the bait?!! Whoohoo!
    Do they catch crawfish down there, too?
    Wonderful bird pics, I just love Roseate Spoonbills!
    Always fun to learn something new each day!

  19. WHAT A FUN TIME..WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN THERE!! Blue crabs are a pretty pricey entree in a good restaurant...I was sooo glad to see the Roseate Spoonbills!! We saw one at Goose Island SP in Fulton TX...It was in flight and the pink color shocked me...like maybe I was seeing a pink elephant and had finally lost my marbles...You are a great "educator", and remind me of my Ya Ya Mary, who was a great and fun teacher, just like you were, I'm sure...We need more teachers like you.
    Mosquitos....Maybe if you washed your laundry in Deet...??

  20. Interesting to learn that the pink coloring of the birds is from the shrimp they eat.

  21. Ah, sausage, shrimp and crab gumbo. That fella must have a little Cajun in him! The one thing I dislike is that's Leonard family cleans and then tosses the crabs whole into the gumbo. They then pick the crabs with gumbo running up their arms. EEW! I just can't do that. I guess that's why they called me their Yankee sister-in-law.

    Ouch and swat on the mosquitoes.

  22. Wow, today you taught me how to catch blue crabs, and the birds take on the color of their diet. It doesn't look like you are enjoying the mosquitoes too much. They're gone from WI, must be south by you. Kill them all, so they can't fly back!!! hehe

  23. What a great post! Loved the pictures and I learned a lot, too. You have carved out an interesting life for yourself, Judy.

    When I was a kid, I used to crab on the docks on the south shore of Long Island NY. I used to get 3 fish heads for 10 cents. I'd stay until I got a bushel full to bring them home to my Dad who had a pot of boiling water on the stove.

    There was a nearby bridge where men used traps. That looked like a lot less work than a net so I saved the money I earned from chores and finally had the $3 or so to buy one (took forever). I was so excited when I bought the trap. I rode my bike as fast as I could pedal, tied a fish head to the bottom of it, and threw it off the bridge...forgot to tie the rope on. LOL I knew the minute it left my hands. A lot of groans from the men on the bridge.

  24. Wow.... I must have missed this post before. Sure am getting an education reading your blog! Thanks so much for taking the time to post all this. I am sure many others are grateful as well, including your grandchildren.