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La Birding Trails

The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism has embarked upon the task of reviewing and updating all Louisiana Birding Trails. Amy Wise, Public Relations and Media Coordinator at the Monroe–West Monroe Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, contacted our Board Member & Treasurer Charles Paxton last week with information on how we can help.

What a terrific project! She can use our help in more than one way. Three Ouachita Parish sites have already been suggested to her: Black Bayou Lake NWR, Kiroli Park and Lazarre Park. Amy needs to know what birds can be seen at these locations and when.

I have mentioned to Amy the Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea) at Black Bayou Lake and at some point will send her this, my best photo ever of a PW.

In addition, if you know of additional sites she should consider, she would be pleased to hear from you. Of course, sites with public access are best, as the state will put birding trail information online so that people can access it and walk the trails on their own.

The list of information needed to propose a site is a bit daunting, but Amy emphasizes that if we don’t know it all, we should still send her what we can and she will do some research to try to fill in blanks. Charles sent a letter to our current members last week detailing the information needed, but again, please do not hesitate to send information to Amy because you can’t answer every question.

We, collectively or individually, can also propose a site. The state has set up a website specifically for this purpose. Amy is most interested in Ouachita Parish because she works for the Convention & Visitors Bureau. We can propose sites anywhere. Of course, we know the Gulf Coast is hot birding territory, but wouldn’t it be terrific to draw birders to northeast Louisiana?

I personally intend to check out Lazarre Park. I’m also wondering about Chemin a Haut way up in the northeast corner of the state. Is it good for birding? And how about Chenault Park in the southeast corner of Monroe? Poverty Point, both the reservoir and the heritage site? And I’m wondering if the Molicy Unit should also be proposed, although we all know access can be tricky.

You can contact Amy via email <awise@monroe-westmonroe.org> or by telephone: 318.387.5691. If you want to get started on your own proposed trail, here’s a link to the website: Louisiana Birding Trails Update.

Happy birding, all!

3rd Quarter Meeting

Join us Sunday afternoon, September 26, in beautiful Kiroli Park, 820 Kiroli Road, West Monroe, La. Pick and choose your level of participation from the following items.

2 p.m. Hike – Park your car in the vicinity of shelter 6, which is the first picnic shelter on the left side of the road just past the guard shack at the entrance. We will gather near the entrance to the Conservatory, which is right across the road.

Key: #6 = shelter 6. #2 = Conservatory. Yellow = Outer Trail. Blue = Garden Trail.

Two trails begin right next to the Conservatory. My plan is to head down the Outer Trail (yellow on the map), then switch to the Garden Trail (blue) where they intersect at the end of Azalea Hill. We’ll continue on to the Covered Bridge, then return via the Garden Trail.

As will be our standard operating practice from now on, we’ll begin the hike with a brief safety orientation and all will be asked to sign our waiver of liability sign-in sheet.

3:30 p.m. Guest speaker: Stuart Hodnett – Our meeting will begin in Shelter 6 with our usual educational guest speaker. Our own Stuart Hodnett is now the Director of West Monroe Parks & Recreation, and he will speak to us about the parks system. This will include information about Restoration Park, another wonderful asset in West Monroe we have visited and will visit again.

4 p.m. Business Meeting – I always say “short” but I have to be honest and admit sometimes it goes over 30 minutes! Nevertheless, we should be finished by 4:45 p.m.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit berries (Arisaema triphyllum) from a 2018 visit to Kiroli Park.

That’s it, folks! Don’t forget that the charge to enter Kiroli Park is $1 per person. That’s a very modest fee to help maintain a wonderful park. One of the questions I want to ask Stuart is, How many annual visitors does Kiroli Park have? I’m sure it is a pretty high number.

We will soon have information regarding litter pick-up opportunities.

Updates

Trying to plan certification workshops and other events for the fall has been frustrating to say the least. Right now, it is clear we are safest when we are outdoors. That suits this Naturalist pretty much! So here are some reminders.

A big un’ going for a stroll behind Headquarters in the Tensas River NWR. Photo by BJK.

Tensas River NWR with Roselie Overby – Oct. 10, 2-3:30 p.m. We will meet at Refuge headquarters and caravan to a few places. This is Roselie’s certification project and our first experiential project. Can’t wait!

Fall Celebration – Oct. 16, 10-2. We will have tables outdoors. Our member Anne Frazer will have a climate change-focused table next to ours. We have two beautiful brochures plus business cards to hand out, thanks to Kim Paxton. We will have our t-shirts for sale and other good stuff. Who can help? Please let me know.

The Molicy Unit with Kelby Ouchley – Nov. 13, time TBA but a.m. for sure. As many of you know, this natural area exists in large part due to Kelby. He’s going to do a “show and tell” hike with us at the site. What a privilege!

Now for some things in progress:

Birds – January; Dr. Terri Maness. Here’s hoping we’ll have Covid on the run again and can do classroom work. Terri hopes we’ll be able to go back to the Molicy for field work. Me too.

Bats & Rats – We’re looking at spring. Dr. Kim Tolson (ULM) is a bit in limbo waiting for the the university to figure out its fall semester strategy for dealing with the Delta variant of Covid, and that makes it impossible to think about how to do a workshop with us while the weather is still suitable for such a venture.

Soils: At the Roots of it All – Spring. New idea! I’ve been talking with Dr. Bill Patterson, whom some of you will remember from our Watershed Dynamics workshop a couple years ago. He is contacting Rachel Stout-Evans, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Resource Soil Scientist, to see if she will collaborate with us (see video below). After classroom work, we plan to visit a farm out in west parish that is carrying out soil conservation practices. As a former farm girl, I’m very excited about this.

Stay tuned, folks. There’s life in spite of Covid.

Snakes Alive

Have you heard it said that the only good snake is a dead snake? I have, and it pains me.

Why do many people hate and fear snakes? Do snakes deserve the reputation they have been given? How dangerous are they, really? Can human beings learn to live in harmony with snakes?

Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus), by David Hoover.

David Hoover will explore these questions and more in his Master Naturalist certification presentation, “Snakes Alive.”

The doors of the Environmental Learning Center at Black Bayou Lake NWR will open at 4:30 p.m., Sunday, July 25. David’s presentation will begin about 4:45.

All members who attend will be invited to submit feedback on the form we have devised for that purpose (copies will be provided), or via email. The jury will meet via zoom within the week.

As one whose journey to becoming a Master Naturalist had to include overcoming a certain dread of snakes, I am really looking forward to David’s presentation.

Just to keep it fresh in your mind: Roselie Overby’s experiential certification project is scheduled at 2 p.m. October 10 at Tensas River NWR. Check out our other upcoming events in the column to the right.

Heads up!

Thanks to the work of the events committee, we have events to put on our calendars. Some good ones. So pull up your calendar and let’s go!

July 25:

  • 4:45-5:30 p.m.: David Hoover certification project. BBL Education Center. Details forthcoming.
  • 5:30-6 p.m.: LMN-NE Board of Directors meeting. (Members welcome to stay & observe.)

August 29, 7 p.m.: LMN-NE B of D meeting on zoom. Your Board of Directors has decided to meet on last Sundays of the month on zoom. Members are always welcome to attend, provide feedback and observe, so if you are NOT a Board member but want to receive the zoom invite, notify me (bjk).

September 25: So sorry to report that Bats & Rats must be rescheduled. Will keep you posted.

September 26, 7 p.m.: 3rd Quarter Members meeting on zoom. (Board will not meet in Sept.)

Roselie and me at our first Fall Celebration. We have come a long way!

October 10, 2-3:30 p.m.: Roselie Overby certification project presentation at Tensas River NWR. Roselie is going to do our first ever experiential certification project. We will meet at Tensas. This is an amazing NWR about which I know little. Can’t wait!

October 16, 10 am – 2 pm: Fall Celebration at BBLNWR. Yippee! So glad to have this fun, educational event back. We will need volunteers to staff our table, hand out our brochures, sell t-shirts, sign up new members, etc.

October 31, 7 p.m.: LMN-NE Board of Directors meeting on zoom.

November 14?: Field trip to Molicy Unit with Kelby Ouchley? This one is not yet set for sure, but Kelby has offered and we are eager to take him up on his offer. Pencil it in.

November 28, 7 p.m.: LMN-NE Board of Directors meeting on zoom.

December 12, time??: Graduation, 4Q meeting and Christmas Party! Yay!

A word about safety: The pandemic is not behind us! Things have improved and it is great to be able to make plans, but we must continue to be vigilant. If you are fully vaccinated, wearing a mask–or not–is up to you. It’s not required, indoors or out, but you are certainly free to wear one if you wish and no one will care. If you are not fully vaccinated, please do wear a mask. And we all should continue to practice physical distancing.