It was about 10am. My team and I were getting ready for our first real day of work. While coating ourselves with sunscreen and bugspray, we almost missed something sitting the ground right in front of us. It was a spiny soft shell turtle nesting on the mulch next to the parking lot of the Riverwalk. The leaders said an event like this was unusual. Nonetheless, it was pretty exciting to see the species our main focus is on first thing on our first day of work. Later on, we found holes with small, white eggshell fragments in and around them. This turned out to be a key nesting site for the spiny soft shell turtle.
This sighting made everyone even more excited to start working. In hopes to catch these turtles, as well as other species, we set up a large net taking up about half of the river. It takes about 5 or 6 people to hold this net because the stream current makes it considerably heavy. While this is up, 3 people went way upstream to try and scare the creatures into the net downstream. We did this in 3 different locations. As we kept moving from location to location, the water seemed to keep getting deeper and deeper. I never realized how deep the Chadakoin actually was. Of course, I was in the last group, which means my group and I had the deepest waters to trudge through. It was so deep, in fact, that I had to swim in some parts. Surprisingly, the river was actually quite warm, so it wasn’t completely unbearable. By getting in the river, we saw a plethora of wildlife including (but not limited to) crayfish, minnows, large fish, turtles, frogs, and many species of bird. My advice to you: If you ever find yourself swimming in the Chadakoin, watch for shopping carts at the bottom…they hurt when you trip over them….. And people might get mad at you for chasing away the ducks, but you don’t want these birds to get trapped in your net (They said that happened last year and it wasn’t pretty).
This river is one of our main focuses during Project Wild America. In the early 1900’s, this water was became a dumping site for many industries. Despite this, the river has made much of a recovery, and continues to recover everyday. However, today, this gorgeous river is mostly hidden by the many buildings of Jamestown. The sound of the rushing water is drowned out by the sounds of traffic. Many people of Jamestown drive by the river everyday, without giving it a second thought. The people of Jamestown may think it’s dirty due to its brownish appearance. However, what many people don’t know is that this color is mostly from algae, which many species eat to survive. The abundance of wildlife here shows the river’s speedy recovery, despite its unintentional destruction from the early public.
If everyone took some time out of their busy lives and went to locations like McCrea Point, the Riverwalk, or Chadakoin Park, they may be surprised with what they find. Perhaps you may catch crayfish in the stream, or birdwatch along the edge, or maybe you’re just going for a stroll. If you do this instead of watching a rerun of a television show, you won’t be disappointed. There are many spots along the Chadakoin you could visit including locations in Cassadaga and Falconer. There is also so many species of plants, animals, and reptiles found along this stretch of water. Chances are, you’re going to find something that interests you. Just find a convenient location for you and explore!!