A Song for APRIL 13

Click the sonogram to hear and see the sound.

This is a pretty decent recording of a Prothonotary Warbler. It's hard to resist recording them, just as it's hard to resist looking at them. You can click on the name of the species in the sonogram box (it's in blue) and go straight to the Ebird page for the species. Many beautiful pictures there, plus a range map, recordings, video, the works.

The Prothonotary Warbler is well known as a denizen of southern swamps. This bird's swamp is in the Old Santee Canal Park, a very nice place to visit for a quiet walk in a swamp, on a boardwalk. It encompasses the place where the Old Santee Canal, constructed in the 1790s, met the Cooper River, which flows into Charleston Harbor. If you will click the blue link S44522756 you will be taken to the Ebird checklist for this recording. Then find the line of blue links under the date. That line contains five links, so be careful to click the little flag and not one of the other ones. The first map shows you the park, and its position along a wide waterway called "Cooper River." Backing out a few clicks will reveal that a narrow waterway snaking its way to the northeast is also labeled "Cooper River." It is the real Cooper River. The other one is the canal. In its heyday in the early 19th century, the canal connected the Cooper to the Santee. Such waterway "improvements," from the days just before the advent of railroads, have left their mark on the ecology as well as the history of South Carolina.

The canal was revived in the 1930s as part of the Santee-Cooper project, a hydro-electic and navigation project. Zoom out on the map a few more clicks and you will notice that the Cooper is quite wide below the entry of the canal. The Cooper is a small tidal river with a small drainage basin. The Santee, on the other hand, drains a large swathe of the South Carolina Upcountry, as well as the North Carolina mountains and Piedmont, where it is known as the Catawba. You are looking at Santee River water in the bed of the little Cooper River. That extra water, I heard, helps keep those deep draft ships afloat in Charleston Harbor.

You might want to toggle to satellite view to fully appreciate what we the people have done. The canals are easier to see in this view. Follow the canal from our Prothonotary's home northnorthwest and you will quickly come to Lake Moultrie. Zoom out more and you will see Lake Marion just to the north. Zoom in and you will see a canal connecting Lake Marion to Lake Moultrie. Moultrie is just a holding pond for water from Marion, and the excess is returned to the Santee through another canal, which runs by St. Stephen. Marion, on the other hand, is an impoundment of the mighty Santee, author of the largest river delta on the east coast, and former stronghold of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Before Lake Marion, that is.

It's funny how everything is connected. Santee -- Marion -- Moultrie -- Cooper -- ships -- electricity -- Striped Bass (in the lakes) -- woodpecker. Many think the Ivory-bill is extinct. Considering those connections, many more may hope so. I think it is not extinct. But looking down on this world we've made, I'm not quite sure where the Lord God Bird fits in.

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