I have identified the damselflies we saw at Black Bayou Lake NWR on the field hike for our first certification workshop. Of the several photos I took, only one is in sufficiently sharp focus to show anyone! Nevertheless, the others were good enough to know that all I photographed were the same species.

Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)
Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

The key identifying feature of this damselfly is the division of the shoulder stripe into a line and dot “exclamation point,” which you can clearly see in the photo. If I hadn’t been at the right angle to get that in the photo, I would not be able to make a positive identification.

Fragile forktails look quite similar to citrine forktails, and that’s what I thought it was in the field. But the unmistakable exclamation point on the shoulder makes this a positive ID.

The species list for workshop one is now complete. I have uploaded a pdf here:

1. Basic Field Skills Species List

Don’t forget to register for workshop two, Plants of Northeast Louisiana with Dr. Charles Allen. The link is ready on the Certification tab of this website.

I haven’t generated an agenda yet. I have to go to Alexandria this coming Tuesday, and I will swing by the site on my way home. I need to check out several things that I want to put on the agenda, e.g., where we’ll meet, best directions to the field site, etc.

But you don’t need to wait to register! We do need to know how many as soon as possible, as Dr. Allen always provides handouts and I will need to get them photocopied.

And for this workshop, my task will be to put down the camera for a change, stay close to Dr. Allen and come home with an accurate list of the plant (and other) species we identify in the field. We did well at Black Bayou, but I’ve been in the field with Dr. Allen. I’ll bet we’ll have more!

Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus)
Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

#2: Plants with Dr. Allen!

Sorry for being MIA the past few days. I did have a great time in Chicago!

Certification Workshop #2 is scheduled Saturday, April 28, at a location near the Ouachita River Lock and Dam near Columbia. (More about that below.) Recall that we were going to do a BioBlitz on this date, but that had to be cancelled due to flooding of the ULM Biological Station site.

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Dr. Charles Allen was going to be at the BioBlitz and was going to do a workshop with us either the day before or the day after. Happily, he is still available, and so we will go ahead with a Saturday workshop. I hope you still have the date reserved!

The Certification page of this website has been updated; please register as soon as possible. And I do apologize to the birders, as I know at least some of you will be at the Ornithological  Society meeting. Problem was, Dr. Allen was still available and none of the other workshop leaders I’m negotiating with are available that soon.

I will provide more info and a map in a future post. For the moment, Dr. Allen and I visited this site a couple of years ago, and that’s when I took these photos. I plan to speak with the McDonald’s Restaurant in Columbia about us meeting and having the “classroom” portion of Dr. Allen’s workshop there, but as is Dr. Allen’s standard practice, we will spend most of the day in the field.

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Western Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis proximus)     (photo by Bette Kauffman)

More to come!! I’ll share an agenda as soon as I’ve cleared it with Dr. Allen. And, yes, pine straw is the pits, but sometime you just can’t move it out of the way!

The best laid plans…

You know the saying! Maybe you prefer “Life is what happens while you’re making plans!”

Either way, the ULM Biological Station, Charles Allen Nature Preserve has experienced serious flooding–both the low areas of the property and the access roads. Dr. Joydeep of the ULM biology faculty has informed me that the BioBlitz scheduled April 28 has been postponed until fall (no date yet), giving time for things to dry out, damage to be assessed, repairs to trails and bridges, etc.

Recall that we were going to participate in the BioBlitz as our 2nd Quarter educational activity and conduct our business meeting the last half hour of the day. Since that cannot happen, I am looking around and thinking about alternatives. We have many.

This also affects our certification workshop schedule, as Dr. Charles Allen will not be coming north for the BioBlitz, thus will not be readily available to us that weekend. Moreover, Dr. Joydeep is leaving for the Himalayas on a research trip with his graduate assistant at the end of the spring semester and has asked to move his workshop to July.

How about some lovely water oak catkins to soothe frayed nerves?

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Catkins of Water Oak (Quercus niger)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

So…. keep your eye on this space as I take stock and reconnoiter! We will go forward with all possible haste. I will post an update as soon as possible, but since I am about to leave town for a few days, it might be next week.



What a day!

The first Louisiana Master Naturalists – Northeast certification workshop is under our belts. Twenty of us gathered in the education center at Black Bayou Lake NWR at 8:30 a.m. and disbanded at 3 p.m. after a day of informative presentations and discussions, and a fabulous hour on the nature trail.

Broad-banded Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata confluens)
Broad-Banded Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata confluens)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Yes, this is my best shot of the day! What I appreciate about this image is that I was able to find a hole through the thick stuff the snake was hiding in to get a perfectly focused, nicely framed shot of the head and eye.

For a short hike, we saw lots of cool stuff, but snakes ruled the day. To the best we could reconstruct, we saw 5 or 6 broad-banded water snakes, 5 or 6 yellow-bellied water snakes (Nerodia erythrogaster flavigaster), a rough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus) and a ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus).

Amy Ouchley’s theme, “Observe, Record, Reflect,” was a powerful idea to me. One of my (many!) reflections on the day is a question: Why so many snakes spotted? I have walked those trail many times and rarely have seen a snake. My tentative answers: a) Many eyes see much more than one pair of eyes! b) The water is receding from being very high. The snakes were ready to be out of the water, drying out and soaking up sunshine–even the water snakes. What do you think?

Mayhaw (Crataegus opaca)
Mayhaw (Crataegus opaca)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Finally, we returned to the education center for a short debriefing. The common sentiment? What a treat it had been to be with like-minded folks who freely shared whatever they knew about what we were looking at. It was rich!


I don’t usually do more than one post per evening, but…. y’all aren’t paying attention!

Our first certification workshop is NEXT SATURDAY, March 10, and I have a handful of registrations. Here’s your opportunity to experience Nova Clarke, the Conservation Educator of the Year, in action. And Amy Ouchley and Bette Kauffman are no slouches when it comes to sharing their skills!

So… get on over to our certification page on this very website and get yourselves signed up. Please note that you do not need to have a PayPal account to pay via PayPal. PayPal will take your credit card.

However, if you are a techno-phobe or a PayPal-phobe or whatever, contact Bette Kauffman via email or IM or FB or some such. If you are known to me, especially if you are already a member of LMN-NE, you can bring a check or cash to the workshop Saturday, March 10. The workshop fee is $25.

BUT let me know you want to do that! We need to know who is coming. Registration Form for the workshop is a prerequisite to getting credit towards Master Naturalist certification.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Don’t forget: You need to bring your own brown bag lunch and an appropriate journal and pen. See the Workshop 1 Flyer for details. And dress to walk. Maybe we’ll see some blooming redbuds?!