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3rd Quarter Meeting

Coming right up! Tuesday, August 28, 6 p.m., at the Union Parish Library, 202 West Jackson St., Farmerville.

Our focus will be wildlife rehabilitation. Leslie Albritton of Downsville and Micha Petty of Shreveport will be our guest speakers. Both are Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries trained wildlife rehabbers.

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Leslie Albritton

Leslie rehabilitates furry critters. Check her out on Facebook and you will find photos of baby possums, skunks, raccoons and more.

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Micha Petty

Micha rehabilitates herps. You can find him on Facebook as well. I hope Micha will show you a short video of his recent release of a big alligator snapper back into the wild.

Here’s the plan for the evening: At 6 p.m. Stephanie Herrmann and the Union Parish Library will kick off their anti-littering campaign. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. Leslie and Micha will each have about 20 minutes to talk about what drew them to wildlife rehab, their view of the LDWF program and their favorite critter rehab stories. That will leave up to 20 minutes for our questions.

I will provide a handout about the next wildlife rehab training scheduled by LDWF this fall.

At 7:30 p.m. we will have a business meeting. Among the items on our agenda: a treasurer’s report, membership renewal, need for one more board member, some terrific t-shirt design ideas from Kim Paxton, additional certification workshop plans, etc.

And to you patient folks from the east side of our service area: I promise we will come your way for the 4th Quarter Meeting. I’m thinking a Sunday afternoon at Poverty Point.

Water Lilies
Restoration Park, West Monroe, La.

1 Ecologist, 2 Parks, 16 Naturalists

And it all added up to a fabulous Ecosystems and Restoration Ecology certification workshop!

 

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A baby skink (Plestiodon sp.) tries to hide in the gravel of the path in Restoration Park. Sorry, not enough info here for a species ID.     (photo by Bette J.Kauffman)

We met Dr. Joydeep at Kiroli Park and hiked the Wildflower Trail, then went to the Ouachita Valley Branch Library to learn some basics of ecology, and ended the afternoon at Restoration Park just south of I-20, all in West Monroe.

And we came away with new questions to ask about the natural world. What happens over time when a hole opens in the forest canopy and shrubs and vines are allowed to grow unchecked? How does a beaver dam affect not only the flow of water but the plant and animal life that surrounds it?

Netted Chain Fern
Netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata) in Kiroli Park.     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Most specifically, why is Kiroli Park experiencing an “invasion of ferns”? It’s not that they are an invasive species, although Kiroli does have some of the dreaded Japanese climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum). But the “invasion” is by the native and lovely netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata). We saw several large patches of this fern that has not historically been a feature of Kiroli Park.

These are the kinds of questions ecologist asks. And along with the questions came a barrage of new terms and concepts: canopy gap dynamics, canopy shyness, arrested succession, edge effect, and more.

Horse Nettle (Solanum carolinense) w bee
Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense) being ravaged by a bee. Note the “saddlebag” full of pollen on the bee.    (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Ecology is about how organisms interact with their neighbors. And they do. No creature is an island. Everything is interconnected and interacting. Here’s one of my fave John Muir quotes to illustrate the point: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

BTW, all of this sounded a little familiar to a communication scholar! I think I know the topic of my certification final interpretive project. Now to identify an “ecological niche” to focus on…

And, yes, we saw many plants and critters. There will be two species lists, one for each location. I’m counting on Suzanne Laird and Roselie Overby to send me bird lists, and I’m still going through my photos.

Red-spotted Purple
Red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis) in Restoration Park.     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

 

 

Wings, Wings, More Wings

For the first time ever, I spent two and a half days out with my camera last week and took virtually NO plant photos! Instead, it was wings, wings and more wings. And, of course, I have a new obsession….

Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscurus) (female)
Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscurus) (female)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

I arrived at Allen Acres a few miles south of Cravens, La., last Thursday afternoon at about 4 p.m. At 5 p.m., I started the dragonfly count with my first hour and a half to two-hour walk in the natural areas and gardens that surround the Bed & Breakfast and the Allen home.

On that very first circuit of the property, I focused totally on dragonflies. Thereafter, I found myself unable to resist the butterflies and other winged critters, and began to photograph whatever perched near me, without losing my focus on dragonflies. These other winged critters included numerous robber flies, a few bees and wasps, and, of course, the plentiful butterflies.

Indiana Robber Fly (Promachus hinei) (female
Indiana Robber Fly (Promachus hinei) (female)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

If I saw a dragonfly while out with Dr. Allen checking his moth sheets or just walking between the house and B&B, I made note of them as well. The results are gratifying! I documented nine species of dragonfly, both male and female of six of the species. Several of the species had not been observed at Allen Acres before. A few were new to me, too, like the Common Sanddragon above.

Saturday I was joined at Allen Acres by a lot of folks there to help with a butterfly count lead by Craig Marks, who has just published a wonderful guide, “Butterflies of Louisiana.” Of course, I continued to count dragonflies as well.

I spoke with Craig about coming to Northeast Louisiana to do a butterfly count with Master Naturalists and he is eager to come. We just have to come up with a good place to do it! So be thinking about that and we’ll talk about it at our 3rd Quarter meeting, now on the events calendar. More on that later!

I’m still processing photos, but if you want to see more dragonflies, plus the many other critters I documented, go to iNaturalist and search for Allen Acres BioBlitz 2018. More to come!

Carolina Sphinx (Manduca sexta)
Carolina Sphinx (Manduca sexta)     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

BioBlitz at Allen Acres

This is National Moth Week and for the third or fourth year running–can’t remember for sure–Charles Allen is running a week-long BioBlitz at Allen Acres, located a few miles south of Cravens, La. on Hwy 399.

The week’s events started last Saturday with a fungi inventory lead by experts David and Pat Lewis. It’s been a bit dry, but as Charles says, the Lewises could “find mushrooms in a desert.”

Red-patched Emerald (Nemoria saturiba)
Red-patched Emerald (Nemoria saturiba) on sheet at Allen Acres     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Of course, the week long event really began at 5:30 a.m. last Saturday when Charles checked his numerous mothing sheets to see what the night had brought. Last I heard, Charles had identified over 700 species of moths at Allen Acres, faithfully checking his sheets most evenings and early mornings.

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This coming Saturday, Craig Marks will conduct a butterfly count, first at Allen Acres, then at a couple sites in the Kisatchie National Forest. Craig does this every year and can use lots of help. I will take my copy of his new book along to get signed.

I am heading to Allen Acres Thursday and will be there through Saturday late afternoon. In addition to mothing, plant identifying and helping count butterflies, I will count dragonflies and damsel flies, recording species and numbers to the best of my limited ability, until I leave some time late Saturday afternoon.

Yes, it’s hot. So we will take plenty of breaks indoors, keep hydrated, and have a blast, I’m sure!

BTW, Allen Acres includes a lovely B&B at a reasonable price and Susan Allen’s meals are beyond delicious. Lunch and dinner are just $10 a pop. And if you prefer, you can camp on the grounds for a very modest price. Check it out here.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) at Allen Acres     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Ecosystems & Restoration Ecology

Coming up! Our next certification workshop is scheduled August 4. Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee of the ULM Biology program is our workshop leader.

Perhaps you recall from earlier communiques that Dr. Joydeep is on a research trip in the Himalayas this summer. He will return the middle of next week, just a few days before our workshop.

The consequence of this timing is that I have not been able to speak with him to resolve the details of our workshop. Nevertheless, I have emailed him a proposed agenda, in the hope that he has access to email and will take a minute to respond.

In the meantime, here is what I have PROPOSED:

  • Meet at Kiroli Park in West Monroe at 8 a.m. for intro and walking a couple Park trails.
  • Reconvene mid-morning at Ouachita Valley Library on McMillan Rd., WM, for classroom work.
  • Reconvene at 12 noon at Restoration Park, 700 Downing Pines Rd, WM, for lunch in pavilion at entrance and additional field work.

Please bear in mind that this is a DRAFT awaiting Dr. Joydeep’s approval. I have not finalized an agenda for the day for that reason. As soon as I am able to do that, I will distribute it to workshop enrollees via email.

And, of course, if you haven’t enrolled and plan to do so, now is the time. Go to the Certification tab at the top of this website and you will find instructions and links.

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A white-tailed deer crosses the wetland of Restoration Park.      (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

Look carefully at the photo above and you will see that the deer is not quite in sharp focus. Nevertheless, it is my favorite of all the photos I have taken at Restoration Park. Remind me to tell you the story sometime!