General Interest Meeting

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Gulf Fritillary on Eupetorium, Black Bayou Lake NWR   Photo by Bette J. Kauffman

Just a reminder that Louisiana Master Naturalist – Northeast is meeting Tuesday, Oct. 3, in the Visitor’s Center at Black Bayou Lake NWR, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Our agenda includes an update on our progress toward becoming an official chapter. We will have a tentative plan for levels of membership and participation, and what it will take to become a certified Master Naturalist, as well as ideas about workshops to be offered.

This is your chance to have input at the ground level! BTW, I’m big on beginning meetings on time and ending on time.

Refuge Krewe training!

I had a ball last night. I also held this snake!

Nova & Grouchy

One of the things I have planned to do in retirement is take advantage of opportunities to volunteer out where the wild and beautiful things are. Volunteering happens to also be one of the requirements of achieving and sustaining Master Naturalist certification.

Nova Clarke, Black Bayou Lake NWR Ranger, is conducting volunteer training right now, so I went last night. It was fun and informative.

She introduced us to Grouchy, the Louisiana Pine Snake, because one of the problems the refuge has is people killing snakes. I understand that many people dislike snakes, but killing them is not okay. Snakes occupy a very important ecological niche. Don’t mess with one in the wild and it is highly unlikely it will mess with you.

If you would like to consider volunteering at the refuge, come on out to Nova’s training. She will repeat the first class tomorrow (Thursday, 9/28) at 6 p.m. in the education center at the refuge. It’s a 2-class series, and in two weeks (Tuesday, 10/10 and Thursday, 10/12) she will offer the second class. I plan to be there.

BTW, Louisiana pine snakes are an endangered species. Nova estimated that no more than 100 survive in the wild due to loss of habitat, which is the longleaf pine forest where their favorite food–pocket gophers–thrive.



Caught in flight!

It’s no mean feat, capturing a dragonfly in flight! Especially since I do not use a motor drive on my camera.

Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)
Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)                        Photo by Bette J. Kauffman

This is only the second successful such shot in probably 5 years of seriously pursuing dragonflies. Needless to say, I have hundreds of frames of blurry dragonflies! Well, I have discarded most of them, but… you get the idea.

Why attempt this? One reason is that P. flavescens lives up to its common name. This species doesn’t perch much. It is constantly on the move. My other successful shot of a dragonfly in flight is the same species.

Only once have I encountered this rather common species in a perching mood. It was on in the middle of a hot, hot summer day on the edge of a field in Morehouse Parish, and all of the dragonflies were in the shade and perching a lot. So I do have a photo of a perched Wandering Glider–but only one.

Yesterday on my way home from the Cajun Prairie Preservation Society meeting, I stopped at a place I have been photographing for perhaps 10 years. It is a quarry on the east side of Highway 165 just north of the north entrance to Camp Hardtner, and I have documented the return of this site from a raw, barren scar on the face of the earth to an ever greener oasis.

Yesterday, the air was full of dragonflies. I glimpsed at least four species, two of which I have never seen at that site before. But none of them were perching! Not one dragonfly perched for even a split second the entire 45 minutes or so I was there.

Why? I have no idea why dragonflies at times do not perch, but I have observed this before. Maybe we’ll find a dragonfly expert to do a lecture for Master Naturalists?!

BTW, I’m thinking my photos and observations of the changing landscape of The Quarry might make a book one day.


3.415 Tons of Trash

The official data is in. The Army Corps of Engineers reports that Ouachita Green’s water sweep last Saturday, Sept. 9, took 6,830 pounds of trash out of our waters and off their shorelines. That’s 3.415 tons of litter that will NOT be floating around in the Ouachita River, our bayous, and tributaries that lead to the river.

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Trash taken from the Ouachita River.                             Photo by Bette Kauffman

The Corps also reports that 425 volunteers participated in this effort. What an outstanding effort by the many organizations and individual citizens who came out to help!

A special thanks to Louisiana Delta Adventures, the signature sponsor of the event. Look for new locations to be added to next year’s event and get involved!

Keeping Our Waters Clean

Judging by the piles of trash deposited in various places along the Quachita River, Bayou Desiard and Black Bayou Lake, today’s “Ouachita Water Sweep” was a huge success.

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Working from canoes and kayaks, Boy Scout Troop 74 of Monroe (above) and several members of Friends of Black Bayou pulled trash from Black Bayou Lake.

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Families of American Heritage Girls and Trail Life USA boys picked up trash on the Ouachita River levee above and below the Forsythe Part boat ramp.

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Another crew adds its haul to an ever-growing pile of trash at the Forsythe Park boat ramp from the deck of a Ouachita Sheriff’s Dept. boat.

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This crew specialized in the big stuff. An amazing number of tires find their way into the Ouachita River. The wheelbarrow in the back of the boat was an oldie–all steel!

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Stuart Hodnett of Ouachita Green, the organizer of the event, snags a plastic bag out of the river from the deck of a Tensas Levee Authority Police boat.

At noon, hamburgers were served to volunteers under canopies at the Forsythe Park boat ramp, and people shared stories of their finds. The unusual items included a woman’s small purse with wallet, driver’s license and credit cards still inside. This item was turned over to law enforcement to return to the owner.

One of the walking crews found a television set on the river bank. Hodnett said that the all-steel vintage wheelbarrow pictured above on the back of a john boat will be added to Ouachita Green’s collection of gems from the river.

The must common items? Volunteers at Black Bayou and on the Ouachita River suggested beer bottles. Come on, beer drinkers! You can do better.

Photos by Bette Kauffman.