Rendezvous 2021

Rendezvous 2021 begins this weekend! And, in light of pandemic, it is an experiment in having fun and doing naturalist things while maintaining physical distance. If you’ve been avoiding those overnight stays in cabins in a state park, here’s an opportunity for you to check out Rendezvous virtually!

First, I direct your attention to the Rendezvous 2021 Facebook page, here. It’s a private group, so you must request admission and answer a few questions–the most important one being, “Are you a member of a chapter of LMNA?”

LMNA Rendezvous 2021 on Facebook is a private group open only to paid-up members of Louisiana Master Naturalist chapters.

The FB Rendezvous group is only open to members of chapters. If you can say yes to that question, you will be promptly admitted. This is the place to track Rendezvous activities, see images that are submitted to the photo and video contests, see reminders of upcoming events, and so forth.

If you want to actually participate in Rendezvous activities, rather than merely follow along on Facebook, you must register for Rendezvous and make a $20 donation to the Louisiana Master Naturalist Association. You can do both here.

When you click the link above, you will go directly to the Rendezvous 2021 page on the LMNA website. It is a world of information, beautifully put together by our own Charles Paxton.

The Rendezvous 2021 page on the LMNA website is packed with information.

There you will find a yellow PayPal “Donate” button for your $20 contribution, but you also can write a check and mail it to our statewide treasurer, Janie Braud. Her address is on the officer page of the state website.

You will also find a red box with links to everything you could possibly want: the registration flyer, not to be confused with the registration form, and information about the various activities.

Yours truly in the one member of the planning committee who is behind. The very next item on MY agenda is to create a document with the rules and guidelines for participating in the Rendezvous 2021 Scavenger Hunt and get it to Charles so he can put it on the website.

Until I get that done, note the screenshot above. The Rendezvous 2021 Scavenger Hunt will be conducted via an iNaturalist collection project. You must be manually added to the project as a user for your observations to be counted. And that will happen as soon as you register for Rendezvous 2021, as directed above.

So far, the Paxtons and I are the only members of the Northeast Chapter to register for Rendezvous 2021. It would be great to see that change! It’s going to be fun and educational. Please go to the Rendezvous 2021 page on the LMNA website and check it out.

Worth the Wait!

So today turned out to be the perfect day for the Trillium Walk! Sometimes frustrating delays are for the better.

In fact, the trillium have also been delayed by the weather. We found lots of them, but the plants are still small and most had not yet formed a flower bud. Nevertheless, we found a few open flowers to appreciate. I’d say two weeks from today would be a perfect day to go back to see lots of flowers!

This trillium grew right next to the sunny side of a tree, so it came through the cold weather relatively unscathed.

Cranefly orchid leaves were also in abundance. I marked about 5 spots and didn’t even find some of the spots I have seen previous years. The leaves are easy to identify, but by the time they bloom in August, the leaves are gone and flower spikes are slender and pale. Hunter orange trail tape hanging nearby is a big help finding them!

A duskywing for sure, but E. juvenalis or E. horatius?

Other highlights of the day include my first butterfly of the season, a duskywing of the Erynnis genus. I assumed it was a Horace’s, but iNat prefers E. juvenalis, so I posted it at the genus level. We’ll see what the experts say.

A barge makes a sharp turn on the bend in the Ouachita River below the Courtman Overlook on the ridge that runs the length of the Charles Allen Nature Preserve.

Near the end of our hike, we paused at the Courtman Overlook to admire the view and rest for a minute before heading back to our vehicles. Suddenly someone noticed a barge coming down the river–a very large barge coming down the river. The Ouachita River makes a sharp bend right at the overlook. We watched in amazement as the captain maneuvered the barge, turning it in a much shorter distance than you would think possible in order to stay in the channel, which runs close to the opposite bank. I should have video taped it!

Finally, a shout out to the town of Columbia, which owns this wonderful Preserve and wants people to come enjoy it and learn. They gave us a great welcome.

Zoom In Sunday

LMN-NE’s 1st Quarter meeting is this coming Sunday, March 7, beginning at 2 p.m. on zoom. A link to register in advance for the meeting is here: LMN-NE 1st Q Mtg

Our guest speaker is Erin Cox, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Refuge Coordinator. Erin is over Black Bay Lake NWR, Tensas NWR and a couple of other refuges in our area. She will give us an illustrated overview of the USFWS, then zero in on the refuges she manages and what we can do to help in fulfilling our mission as conservationists and educators on conservation.

Tensas River NWR is one of the refuges Erin Cox will talk about Sunday.

Following Erin’s presentation and an opportunity to ask her questions, we will conduct a business meeting. Items on our agenda include approval of two new board members, consideration of a request for associate membership, and lots of information about the upcoming, statewide virtual Rendezvous.

Non-members are welcome to hear Erin’s presentation, observe our meeting, ask questions, make suggestions, etc. (Non-members may not vote, of course.) We do, however, require advance registration. That is for security purposes. See link above!

Hope to see you BOTH Saturday on the Trillium Hike and Sunday for our 1st Quarter meeting on zoom.

Perfect Weather!

The 10-day forecast says 66 degrees and sunny for this coming Saturday, March 6. Perfect for a hike! The Trillium Walk will finally happen.

All systems are go. Dr. Charles Allen, retired botanist and the man after whom this nature preserve is named, plans to be there, along with his wife Susan and daughter Dawn. Scott Meredith of the city of Columbia, which owns the property, plans to join us AND has provided a port-a-john for our comfort! Our birder Roselie Overby is back on tap.

Again, the site is the Charles Allen Nature Preserve in the Copenhagen Hills near Columbia. Don’t bother with your GPS; it will not find this site. The map below will get you through Columbia, and once you’re on Fisher Rd. headed out of town, just keep coming until you see my black Honda CRV parked on the left side of the road.

This map will get you through Columbia. If you are coming from the south, there’s another more direct route. Email me at bjkauffman@gmail.com for those directions.

I plan to be there shortly past 9:30 and hope to head off on our hike at 10 sharp. If you would like my cell # just in case you have trouble, please email me at bjkauffman@gmail.com. BTW, CenLa Master Naturalists, there’s another way to get in if you are coming from the south. Email me if you want those directions.

I cannot be absolutely certain that the trillium will still be blooming. I’m hoping the cold weather set them back but didn’t kill them! The red buckeye should be starting to bloom. Here at home, the freeze turned some of the leaves black on my red buckeye, but the bloom spikes are forming anyway.

I’ll be looking for crane fly orchid leaves to mark the sites for a visit in August when they’re blooming. There’s also a cucumber magnolia–a tree you do not see very often–plus a green ash–and plenty of other wonderful sights, not the least of which is the Ouachita River from the overlook.

Red Buckeye with bloom spikes in formation, on the Charles Allen Nature Preserve near Columbia, La.

Be sure to bring water and snacks if you need them. We will most likely be on the trail for 2 hours. Hiking boots or sturdy sneakers recommended as a short portion of the trail is somewhat steep and the trillium we are seeking grow on the slope of the ridge.

See you Saturday. This hike will be all the more delicious for having been twice delayed!

An Estuarine Reserve for Louisiana

And it’s past time! The most surprising thing I learned in Monday night’s zoom presentation to Louisiana Master Naturalists was that every other state in the union with a coast line already has an Estuarine Reserve, some more than one. So why don’t we? Because Louisiana politics. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised!

But we’re going to have one. Gov. John Bel Edwards has written the required letter and the National Estuarine Research Reserve folks are actively working with experts within Louisiana to pick a site. They are still in the early stages, but Monday’s presenter, Dr. Robert Willey, Director of Sea Grants and renowned coastal preservation scientist, hopes we might be close to choosing a site by fall of this year.

What is the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System and what are the benefits of a NERR in Louisiana? To me, that’s kind of a no-brainer. A program designed to focus scientific and public attention on conserving the coast and it’s related wetlands is surely just what Louisiana needs.

But I came away from Dr. Willey’s presentation with much greater clarity about what a LaNERR (Louisiana National Estuarine Research Reserve) has to offer, what’s involved in getting one, and why we should. And we in northeast Louisiana need to be just as informed and gung ho as the folks in south Louisiana. Our coast and it’s rich habitats and biodiversity affects us all.

Louisiana is glaringly absent from the line-up of state’s having oceanic coastlines that already have a NERR.

So… statewide communication officer Charles Paxton recorded our zoom “Roadshow Presentation” and put a link to the recording on our statewide website. Click here to go watch it. Dr. Willey puts everything in terms all can understand. I’m guessing you’ll come away informed and enthusiastic.