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!

3 thoughts on “What a day!

  1. We greatly enjoyed the day. Thank you to all who made it possible.

    That’s a great shot of a broad-banded water snake.

    The classes were all very good, we thought, and we saw a great deal of wildlife on the walk, yes. More than Kimmie and I saw two days ago, but it was warmer today too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After a brief confab, Kimmie and I think that the drop in water level may have contributed to our sighting of the Western Ribbon Snake today, yes. In the past we have only ever seen them out of water.

    Liked by 1 person

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