Heartwood Natural Area

What a special time we had learning about upland hardwood forests and touring Heartland Natural Area that surrounds the home of Kelby &Amy Ouchley!

Kelby Ouchley
Kelby Ouchley is a great storyteller!

We heard many interesting stories of the Ouchleys’ 30 years of experience buying bits of adjoining land when they were able, fending of the unwanted advances of pipeline builders, and more. I was particularly fascinated with Kelby’s historical account of how public outcry intervened in the loss of bottom hardwood forests east of the river. But the farms among the hills west of the river were smaller, thus the more incremental loss went almost unnoticed.

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Heartwood NA is in the LDWF Natural Areas Registry program.

The Ouchleys have preserved a treasure, the 13 acres around the house now 140 years old and one of the few examples of the eco-type available to us today.


After talking and touring, we had our 2nd Quarter meeting on the back deck overlooking the forest. Perhaps most notably, a red-shouldered hawk flew behind me as I conducted the meeting. Everything came to a halt so I could turn around and get into position to see the bird where it had perched in a tree top a hundred yards or so from the deck. Love this group! What other kind of meeting could you stop to view a bird?!

Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium)
Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) thrives around the pond.     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Highlights: 1) Charles Paxton is working on a t-shirt design. If you have a favorite northeastern Louisiana critter, find or make a sketch of it. He’s going to try to create a collage design. 2) Our next three certification workshops are scheduled. See “News & Events” on the website. I am working on a brochure that will tell about membership and certification at a glance. 3) We must purchase liability insurance. I’m working on that, too!

Northern Red Oak
How did a Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) get here? Who knows. But note that the leaves are wider than those of the Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata).     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

I’ll post a species list at some point, so anyone who kept a record of what you saw, please send it to me. The Ouchleys say we are welcome back. I can assure you, we will go back. I want to see the upland hardwood forest in fall colors!

Final Call for Herps!

Our third certification workshop featuring Dr. John Carr and the herpetofauna of northeast Louisiana is ready for you!

Here’s the agenda for the day:

Workshop 3 Flyer

Please note that we convene on the ULM campus in Hanna Hall, Rm 250. For those of you not familiar with campus, approach on University Ave. and look for the large Arkansas stone ULM sign at the entrance of a U-shaped parking area.

GPS users, the official address of the University is 700 University Ave., but Google Maps has that over in Bayou Park somewhere! The Arkansas stone entrance to campus is between Northeast Dr. on the north and Desiard St. on the south. Get into that 3-block stretch and you will see the sign.

When you turn into the entrance to the U-shaped parking lot, Sugar Hall will be on your immediate right and Walker Hall straight ahead at the top of the U. As your drive around the U, Hanna Hall is the third building you come to. Park in the U.

Carolina Anole (Anolis carolinensis)
Remember this cutie! Carolina Anole (Anolis carolinensis)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

We will spend the morning on campus, caravan to Black Bayou Lake for field work, and debrief in the Visitor Center. See details on the flyer.

Now, BIG BONUS! Dr. Carr has offered a special 2nd after-dark trip for the purpose of calling frogs! We would reconvene at the lake at 8 p.m. and spend up to 2 hours seeing what goes bump–or ribbit, as the case might be–in the night. But he has to arrange this in advance, so shoot me an email if you are interested.

BTW, the night part would be totally optional. You will get full credit for the workshop by doing the day. However, if even a half a dozen folks are interested, I’m going to ask Dr. Carr to set it up because I want to do it!

Members Meeting May 20

As posted a couple weeks ago, our 2nd Quarter Members Meeting is Sunday, May 20, 4:30 – 7 p.m. I have scheduled two and a half hours because we have the exquisite privilege of spending the first two hours learning about and hiking in the upland forest that surrounds the home of Kelby & Amy Ouchley.

The Ouchley’s live at 106 Heartwood Dr. The mailing address is Farmerville, but the location is Rocky Branch. Here are Kelby’s directions:

“Turn west off of Hwy. 143 in Rocky Branch beside the closed community store on Rocky Branch Rd. Go 1.5 miles and our driveway is on the right across from a red brick house. There is a “Heartwood” street sign at the driveway.”

For those so inclined, the GPS coordinates are 32°40’41”N, 92°13’24”W.

White Oak (Quercus alba)
White Oak (Quercus alba) is one of the trees of the upland forest.     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

We will reconvene on the porch about 6:30 for a half-hour meeting. Here’s the tentative agenda:

Agenda 5-20-18

My main thought in scheduling as I did was to be sure we had daylight to explore the forest, but would not be in the noonday sun. However, this particular timing does raise a couple of issues that require forethought:

1. We will be outdoors at dusk and there’s a swamp nearby. Mosquitoes are likely to be on our species list! Come prepared.

2. We are scheduled to meet over what is typically a meal time and the Ouchleys have promised we can linger on the porch. If you would like to be able to do that but expect to be hungry after two hours of exploring the forest, please bring snacks and finger foods to share. As always, bring your own water or other non-alcoholic beverage.

See you there!

Herpetofauna of NE Louisiana

It’s just around the corner! Our third certification workshop, that is: June 2, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The certification page of this website is ready for you to register.

Herpetofauna of NE Louisiana

I just emailed a draft of an agenda with details to Dr. John Carr, our workshop leader, for his input and approval, thus the “Workshop 3 Flyer” link on the Certification page of this website is not yet active. However, the general plan continues to be convening in a biology lab on campus, then at some point caravaning to Black Bayou Lake NWR for field work.

The PayPal registration link is active, so get registered as soon as possible. As usual, I tested the link by being the first to register! Remember: You do not have to have a PayPal account to register via PayPal. You can use any credit card to do so.

If you pay via PayPal, you do not need to submit the workshop registration form. I tried something new last time, specifically creating a workshop roster and having you sign next to your name at the workshop. I like saving paper! So that’s what I’ll do again.

However, if you prefer the old fashioned way of mailing a check, please print the workshop registration form and send it with your check. Again, if you make arrangements with me in advance, you can pay on site.

Mississippi Green Water Snake (Nerodia cyclopion)
Mississippi Green Water Snake (Nerodia cyclopion)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Given our subject matter, I had to share another of the magnificent snakes we saw on our first field work experience at BBLNWR. But it is important to remember that “herpetofauna” is about a lot more than snakes. I’m personally hoping to see some salamanders. At last year’s BioBlitz at the ULM Biological Station, Dr. Carr found a marbled salamander under a log, but I failed to get a decent photo of it!

Next 3 Workshops Scheduled!

Yes! For real, I have the next three workshops scheduled:

amphibiansandreptilesbookcoverJune 2, Herps with Dr. John Carr – We will meet in a Biology classroom on campus in the morning, then go to Black Bayou Lake NWR for field work. LSU press has just published Dr. Carr’s “Amphibians & Reptiles of Louisiana.” I’m sure he’d love to sign copies for us!

Dr. Anna Hill

June 23, Aquatic Life with Dr. Anna Hill – We will spend the day at Black Bayou Lake NWR collecting samples and looking at them under microscopes in the Education Center. Dr. Hill is seeking to borrow some good scopes for this purpose, but I want LMN – NE to think about raising funds &/or seeking grants to better equip the BBLNWR Education Center for future workshops.

August 4, Ecosystems & Restoration Ecology with Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee – We will begin in the pavilion at Kiroli Park and end the day at Restoration Park, both in West Monroe. Dr. Joydeep will have just returned from a summer research trip in the Himalayas, so maybe we’ll get him to tell us a little bit about that, too!

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Dr. Joydeep gives the keynote adress on Citizen Scientists at the 2018 LMNA Rendezvous.     (photo by Charles Paxton)

I have posted an updated version of our Certification Curriculum on the Certification tab of this website. Please note a couple of things:

1. We will have a total of 10 workshops if I can find leaders. At this time, “Insects” is most up in the air as I have no leads on a workshop leader.

2. Whether we have 9 or 10 workshops total, 7 will be required for certification. Of course, we hope you won’t want to quit learning after the 7th!

3. We will end this first cycle of workshops in January 2019 because that is when Dr. Terri Maness wants to do the Birds workshop due to the incredible numbers and diversity of birds available to us at Upper Ouachita in January.

Flyers and Registration links for these workshops aren’t up yet, but get them on your calendar now! More later…..