Dec. 11, 1:30 p.m. – Our Christmas Party and 4th Quarter meeting will be at Heartwood, the wonderful natural area Amy & Kelby Ouchley call home. We’ll begin with a guided hike around Heartwood, then party and meet. Details coming soon in another post.

We have a few new members interested in becoming certified Master Naturalists, and several long-time members who were interrupted in their progress toward certification by the pandemic. Therefore, I am working very hard on lining up 4 or 5 certification workshops mostly on second Saturdays in the spring. Here’s what I’m planning and have so far:

Feb. 11 and March 11, 2023, 9 am–3 pm – One of these days will be Basic Field Skills and I hope the other will be mammals, but I have not been able to pin that down yet.

April 15, 2023, 9 am–3 pm – This will be Aquatic Life, with Dr. Anna Hill instructing at Black Bayou Lake NWR. (This is the third Saturday of the month because the second Saturday is the one before Easter.)

May 13, 2023, 9 am–3 pm – This one will be Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharjee’s basic Ecosystems workshop. We’ll begin at Kiroli Park, meet in the public library for his lecture then go to Restoration Park–all in West Monroe.

June 10, 2023, 9 am–3pm – Possibly Geology.

To the extent possible, I have chosen topics that people in the process need to finish. However, anyone willing to pay the $25 workshop fee will be welcome to enroll. I for one am looking forward to repeating these, as I know I didn’t absorb everything the first time through.

Please put these dates on your calendar. I will update the Events list in the right hand column on this page as soon as I get confirmation from a workshop leader.

Good Times!

We lost a workshop but gained a very good time! When a workshop had to be cancelled, we gathered at Black Bayou Lake NWR anyway, first in the Environmental Education Center then on the boardwalk, where the birds entertained us well.

Grouchy,” BBLNWR’s resident Louisiana pine snake, attends an LMN-NE board meeting back in the early days.

David Hoover kicked off the day by presenting his certification project once again. It’s titled “Snakes Alive!” and I’m sure you haven’t heard the last of it. It’s excellent and I think/hope we got a good recording of it this time. It’s fun, informative and especially helpful to people who want to overcome a snake wariness. So if you know a group or organization that would like a fine educational experience, let us know. Our certification projects are meant to be shared!

After David’s talk, we played with Grouchy (see above) for awhile, then adjourned to the boardwalk. It was an overcast day, which was better for photography than you might think! On a sunny day, birds sitting high in trees turn into black silhouettes against the bright sky. A cloudy day can be a relief.

It was a woodpecker day for me. First a red-belly in a tree along the boardwalk, then both a downy and a sapsucker on snags out in the open. Of course, a great egret stalked fish along the edge of the open water and a flock of coots passed us by.

But the crowning observation was a bald eagle–high on a snag and quite a long ways away. Nevertheless, I managed a shot–not the best, but suitable to share here and for iNaturalist, the online citizen science platform where many Master Naturalist post our observations.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

So it was a great day after all. Our next event is our 4th Quarter meeting and Christmas party. That will be at Heartwood, the home of Kelby and Amy Ouchley, and a delightful natural area in its own right. Visitors will be welcome. Look for details here soon.

And be sure to go to our public Facebook group to see lots of photographs and stories from our outings. You’ll find it here.

New Plan!

The certification workshop we had planned for Saturday, Oct. 29, had to be cancelled. We will meet anyway, at 9 a.m. at Black Bayou Lake Environmental Education Center. This will be a free “family fun” day. All are welcome.

David Hoover will present his certification project called “Snakes Alive.” It is fun and informative, and if you have a bit of a snake phobia you want to get beyond, this presentation will help you do that.

Refuge volunteer Jim holds “Grouchy,” one of the Refuge’s two Louisiana pine snakes.

After David’s talk, we will ask the refuge volunteer, Jim, to get one or two of the Louisiana pine snakes out of their tanks for anyone who would like to try touching or holding a snake. I will fill in a bit of information about the current plight of the Louisiana pine snake: Why it is a valuable snake and how it became an endangered species.

We will also go for a walk on the refuge and share information about what we see. Black Bayou Lake NWR never disappoints! There’s always something fun and interesting to see and talk about.

Bring your own snacks, lunch and water. Dress to be outdoors and walk. The weather is predicted to be beautiful: mostly sunny with a high in the 80s.

This will be a relaxed day with no obligation to stay to the very end.

Fall Celebration

Come on out to Black Bayou Lake NWR tomorrow (Sat., 10/15). It’s Fall Celebration time!

Fall Celebration is the annual event of Friends of Black Bayou. LMN-NE will be there and a number of our members helping with various things.

This female anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) lives at BBL and often poses patiently for my camera.

Activities begin with a nature walk at 9 a.m. The LMN-NE table will have coloring pages for kids and our great t-shirts for sale. We also have bingo cards, and if you walk the boardwalk and see some of the critters on our bingo card, you could win a cool sticker. Great fun for the kids!

Our member Anne Frazer will be next to us with her Climate Change display and activities. More fun and educational as well.

Of course, we have gators! But only at night do you see the red in the eye. This was an after dark “frog walk” by special permission of the Refuge. We’ll do it again. Come along!

The zoo will be on hand as usual, and you might get to pet one of the snakes that live in the Environtmental Learning Center. Don’t worry, they’re non-venomous and accustomed to humans.

I hear the food trucks will be fab and that a concoction called “Black Bayou Mud Pies” will be served. Yay! I hope mud = chocolate!

Fall Celebration has been on hiatus due to the pandemic, so this will be a big, beautiful celebration of being together again at our fave refuge. Admission is free. Don’t miss it!

3Q Meeting

We will meet Sunday, September 11, 3-6 p.m. This will be an all-members quarterly meeting, but as always friends who are interested are welcome to attend, observe and participate in every way except vote, should we need to vote.

We will meet at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, 3706 Bon Aire Dr., in the pavilion overlooking Bayou Desiard. Many will recall that this is where we met in December for our holiday party and 2021 4Q meeting.

Our speaker will be one or more members of St. Thomas’, who will talk about the congregation’s goals in making their 2-lot site a natural area for the community. You might want to bring a lawn chair for the presentation and meeting.

Back in December, we talked about helping. The first step to doing that is assessing what is already there. To that end, we will spend some time after our meeting beginning to identify species of plants and critters. David and Bette will meet ahead of time to create an assessment project on iNaturalist so that we will have an official record of what’s there. David is also looking into natural history signage that would enhance the educational value of the site as a natural area.

I don’t know if the Cooper’s hawks have been sighted recently, but here’s hoping!

Right now, the forecast for Sunday includes 47% chance of scattered thunderstorms and 86 degrees, so we might not get a lot of identifying done. That’s fine. We can start!

See you the 11th! And please check on someone we haven’t seen for awhile. A phone call from another member can be the difference between someone drifting away and returning to active participation.