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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.

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.