Guest Blog: Limestone Bay
Editor’s Note: Charles Seifried is a photographer who has captured images of some of the most beautiful places in the world. A resident of Decatur, Charlie has a keen eye for the places and creatures that make Alabama such a special place to live. He has generously shared this blog post and the accompanying photos with our readers. Charlie also provided the stunning photos for Conservation Alabama’s website. We are grateful for Charlie’s support! For more of his work, visit his website.
One of my favorite places to go year round is a place called Limestone Bay. It is part of the big backwaters of the Tennessee River located just south of Mooresville. There are several ways to get to it. One way is go to Mooresville off of I-565 and go west to the second bridge. You can drop down into the creek and head south. Another is to go further down and make a left turn to go to Arrowhead Landing, which is several miles down a dirt road. I would suggest for those that have not been there to take a GPS and make some way points because it really can get confusing, especially coming back late evening as the sun is heading down.
The bay is shallow and gets even shallower as they lower the water after summer pool height. A kayak is an excellent way to go around in these shallow waters. Occasionally you might startle a large carp underneath your boat. It is a good wake-up as they can make a big splash. The bay used to have trees throughout and when they flooded that area they left a considerable amount of stumps. During the summer months you won’t see them, but as TVA draws down the river in the fall and winter they are visible.
If you look at the map you will see that several creeks come down from the north that flow into the bay. One is Piney Creek which is a very interesting little spot – nice water and you can wind around through some beautiful trees. The other one is Limestone Creek. If you follow the creek you used to be able to wind your way through some tight spots and land at a rather broad, low waterfall that was split into two different sections. Years ago the highway department came back to the area to dig out gravel for the highway and they left the pits to fill up with the stream water. Some of these pits that are further from the stream do have some large gators in them. About two years ago on July 4th we had a terrible rain that flooded that whole area. When I went back shortly after that flood, the waterfall was gone. The trees had been knocked down and the water converged into a single flow. I could not believe that the whole area had been changed that quickly.
On the way to this area there is a section that has some gators. We get photos of them during the early spring when they come out and sun themselves on the banks. You will see the alligators slide on the banks as they head back into the water when need be. I have kayaked pretty close to them and have enjoyed watching their activities; you will see their head first and then they slowly sink into the water. If you wait they will pop back up. Some are pretty large so I think it would be wise that you do not use a sit on top kayak as you might end up as dinner.
There are so many inlets and pools back along the bay. Once you get the hang of the place it really is fascinating. If you are quiet and don’t make noise (like dropping your paddle on the deck) you will be able to sneak up on quite a bit of wildlife. Have your camera ready because they can move quickly and you will miss the shot. During the summers the blue herons are all over the place squawking as they fly off, but during the winters you will see thousands of white pelicans, egrets, snow geese, ducks, sandhill cranes and all varieties of smaller birds.
Over the years I have enjoyed Limestone Bay so much, especially being out there with good friends, doing some races back to the dock or just rafting together and talking during lunch. Most of my friends now are getting older like myself, and have not been out there lately but I still head out when people want to go. For me it is a 30 minute drive to the takeout, so when I see good weather and especially when there are clouds and the promise of a good sunset I am on the water.
During the late fall when the deer are on the move you see some remarkable scenes. You will see herds of deer crossing between the islands and the mainland. All the color of the leaves and the deer are quite a thing to behold. Being in a kayak you really are a small profile on the water, especially if you hide yourself behind some brush, and if you are quiet it pays off in getting the photo you want.
Years ago I witnessed a flock of geese feeding on a mud flat. All of a sudden an eagle came flying down and landed close to them. It was obvious that it had to be a juvenile as the geese hardly paid attention to it. But now the bald eagles are back and every so often you will spot one coming in to land on a tree.
Ospreys are all over the place and they have a habit of building their nests in the cross members of the electric towers that cross the river.
During the spring, the water lilies are all over the place and the yellow flowers are in abundance. You will also see Mimosa Trees, Jackson Vine and honeysuckle.