Blog

Next Sunday…

Do you record or preserve in any way your encounters and experiences out in nature? If so, how? If not, why might one want to start doing that?

Come next Sunday afternoon, May 16, at 2 p.m. to Amy Ouchley’s certification presentation, The Joys of Nature Journaling. She has been studying this process and honing her practice while participating in workshops and now has a lot to share with us.

Our newly reprinted brochures are ready for you to distribute.

As one who spends a LOT of time peering through a camera’s viewfinder, I’m looking forward to learning more about the how’s and why’s of another way of observing, recording and responding to the natural world.

This event will probably take place in the Environmental Learning Center at Black Bayou Lake NWR, but I’m still waiting to hear from Erin Cox. I will send out an email early in the week with final word on that.

Since we have just one presentation this time, we will have a short 2nd Quarter Meeting afterward. Kim Paxton has redone our brochure, and I have lots to hand out to you to give to friends and distribute in places like-minded folks will find them.

And after that, I for one will “take a hike”! Hope some of you will join me. Indeed, this would be a good time to invite folks who might be interested in checking us out.

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

And maybe a bunch of naturalists? We were certainly enthralled!

Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)

That’s the hand of Nelle Jenkins, one of Dr. Kim Tolson’s biology graduate students, who is doing her thesis research on turtles in Bayou Desiard. This awesome critter wandered into one of her live traps. Note that she is firmly grasping the carapace right behind the turtle’s head. Does anyone doubt that those jaws could snap off a carelessly placed finger in a heartbeat?

Today was our Herpetofauna of Louisiana workshop with Dr. John Carr. We were graciously hosted on the ULM campus by the Museum of Natural History and its director, Dr. Kim Tolson, who opened the Museum for us so we could explore before the workshop proper began and again on our lunch break. What a fantastic resource for our community!

Broad-headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps)

So… after exploring the Museum, learning herp taxonomy, meeting this impressive snapper plus a bunch of other turtles on Bayou Desiard, and observing graduate students in action capturing, measuring, tagging and releasing turtles… we went out to Black Bayou Lake NWR for more field work.

To be honest, I lost track. But I’m certain that at least three cottonmouths were sighted, two broad-banded watersnakes, two broad-headed skinks and several little brown skinks, a southern leopard frog, probably a dozen cricket frogs and one green tree frog.

Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea)

All in all, it was a most rewarding day. Thank you so much, Drs. Carr and Tolson and ULM Museum of Natural History.

Tidbits

Tidbit #1. The beautiful organizational business cards Kim Paxton designed are in. Our website URL, email address, and Facebook page handle are on one side and our mission statement is on the other. Those who attend Saturday’s herps workshop will receive some to hand out to people who might be interested in us and/or leave places where such people might congregate.

If you want some personalized with your name and contact info instead of the mission statement on them, contact Kim. You will be asked to pay for those, but the price is very reasonable. Well done, Kim!

Tidbit #2. Reserve Sunday afternoon, May 16, on your calendar. Amy Ouchley will present her certification project. Yay!

One other person, whom I will not yet name since it might not work out, might also be ready. Regardless of whether for one or two presentations, we will meet that afternoon.

I’m waiting to hear from the events planning committee for details, but please reserve the afternoon.

From my most recent hike at Black Bayou Lake NWR, a prothonotary warbler who came out of the thick stuff and posed for me for a split second!

Tidbit #3. Certification going forward: I am working on rescheduling the astronomy workshop that got canceled last fall. Terri Maness has agreed to another birds workshop in the fall. Also, Kim Tolson will do a mammals workshop with us in the fall called “Bats and Rats.”

These workshops are just waiting for me to work on details, which I will as soon as my spring semester of part-time teaching ends in a few short weeks!

Herps!

Herpetofauna of Louisiana is on for Saturday, May 1, 9 am – 3 pm. A PayPal button to register and pay our $25 fee for workshops is on the Certification tab.

The flyer is in Dr. Carr’s hands for approval, but here’s the tentative plan:

We’ll gather in the same lab on the ULM campus we have met in before–Hanna Hall, Rm 250–for our classroom instruction. Dr. Carr’s illustrated lecture will be an intro to herpetology and the herpetofauna of Louisiana.

Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

I know, of course, that some of us heard that lecture a few years ago, but we have new members who need the basics. For me, I just hope more of it will “stick” this time than did the first time I heard it! Repetition is good.

Our first piece of turtle-focused fieldwork will be on Bayou Desiard where it flows through the ULM campus. Feeding the turtles has long been a feature of student life at ULM, but.., better yet, we will learn about a research project being conducted graduate students with the Bayou Desiard turtles.

How many universities can provide a natural turtle lab right outside the biology building? Too cool.

After that, we hope to go to Moon Lake, which is home to many turtle species, including some less common ones we will not see in Bayou Desiard. A fact of life in Louisiana–that roads to certain wonderful natural areas become impassable certain times of the year–might force us elsewhere.

Black Bayou Lake NWR is a possible back-up fieldwork location, but…. will the boardwalk be open? That is a crucial feature we need to get close to the turtles.

Broad-headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps)

Bottom line: We might not know where we’re going until Saturday morning. Dr. Carr is doing some scouting and I assured him that we are flexible.

There’s a wonderful Natural History Museum on the first floor of Hanna Hall, and if we have time, we will visit it.

If you want to do this workshop, please get registered ASAP. We will follow Covid-19 guidelines, which means: 1) if we have more than 11 people who want the workshop, Dr. Carr will have to find a different classroom. I’ve already registered, so there’s room for 10 more. 2) We will wear masks while indoors.

As for transportation to our second field work site, I am fully vaccinated and happy to take passengers willing to wear masks in the car. If you’re not fully vaccinated and/or don’t want to wear a mask in transit, you should drive your own vehicle.

Call/email if you have questions.

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.