Bugs Coming Up!

The registration link for the Bugs workshop this coming Saturday is now live on the Certification tab of this website. Yes, I’m kinda running late, so get registered now!

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Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) – I am thrilled to have gotten this good a photo in spite of the thick cover the pair were in.       (©Bette J. Kauffman)

As usual, if you want to pay on site, email me please. Here’s the Workshop 1 Flyer.

Dr. Natalie Clay is our workshop leader. We will convene on the Tech campus, very likely the same room we have used before, but she has been on the road and will reserve a space for us Monday. I will convey that via email by mid-week.

Our classroom time will include an intro to entomology, major orders of insects, identification, and methods of collecting and preserving.

We will go to the Louisiana Tech Arboretum for our field work. Wear footwear and pants you don’t mind getting wet and muddy! Bring the usual field gear and protection from the sun just in case.

Ahh, the weather! At this time, scattered thunderstorms are predicted for Saturday, with a high of 70 degrees. I plan to bring a rain jacket and will only stay indoors if it is pouring.

But Natalie says if we can’t go outdoors, we will sift through leaf litter indoors, look at Tech’s specimens, etc. Expect to see bugs!

Speaking of rain and bugs.. We had a great 1st Quarter Meeting today at Black Bayou Lake NWR. We saw dragonflies, heard Dr. Doug Clarke’s excellent presentation on Odonates, and got wet over a pair of prothonotary warblers! Then there was this little guy on the path as we hurried back to the Visitor Center in the rain. Perfect afternoon, if you ask me. More about it later.

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Broad-banded Water Snake (Nerodia fasciata confluens)     (©Bette J. Kauffman)


Trash hurts wildlife. Thanks to Charles Paxton for putting together this reminder image.

Our 1st Quarter meeting is this coming Sunday, 2 p.m., at Black Bayou Lake NWR. We’ll walk the trails spotting dragonflies and damselflies for awhile first, then hear Dr. Doug Clarke’s presentation on same in the Visitor Center, followed by our business meeting.

Our next workshop is Saturday the 13th. Working on details NOW! Will get registration up before the weekend.


It really is an island!

So… ever since moving to Louisiana, I have wondered how a little town in the south central portion of the state surrounded by seemingly flat farmland got named Sicily Island.

No longer! Our geology workshop cleared that up for me, and Gerry Click’s information was driven home when I began posting my observations from our field work on iNat. Just look at this map. Do you not see an island?!

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The J. C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA is the green area covering most of the western portion of the geological island you see between the Ouachita River Valley on the west and the flat farmland surrounding the town of Sicily Island and extending to the east pretty much all the way to the Mississippi River. The pink tear drops marked A and B are observations of plants I made at the St. Mary Falls and Rock Falls trailheads, respectively, and posted on iNaturalist.

I will not try to repeat the entire explanation Gerry gave for this rocky island, but it is an Ice Age formation. It is also one of the few places you can go in Louisiana to see lots of rocks, and it is definitely the only place you can go to see a 20-foot cascade!

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Bette Kauffman and Gerry Click enjoy the view from the top of Rock Falls in the J. C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA on the Rock Falls Trail.     (photo by Charles Paxton)

BTW, shortly after Charles Paxton took the above photo, Amy Ouchley made our day by standing IN the falling water!

Blooming trillium and red buckeye all over the place were among the many delights of the day. Both love a sunny slope, and the J. C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA has lots of them. And I can report with confidence that the trillium blooming here are a different species from the trillium that bloom a few miles north on the ULM Biological Station, Charles Allen Nature Preserve.

Trillium (Trillium
Trillium (Trillium sp.)

I can narrow it down to two species. Based on Charles Allen’s wildflower book, the only two possibilities for these locations are Trillium ludoviciana and Trillium gracile. I have long thought the trillum near Columbia were T. ludoviciana. But now that I have a point of comparison, I’m inclined to think that these are T. ludoviciana and the ones up near Columbia are T. gracile. And if that is so, I have a LOT of photos of trillium to re-label!

Hiking the J. C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA has been on our agenda for awhile. You might recall that we planned a family fun hike there a year ago and got rained out. I now understand why hiking those trails when wet and muddy would not be a good idea! They are challenging trails, rocky with some very steep stretches, but well worth the effort.

Kim Paxton and I are both working on species lists. I’m sure our birders Suzanne Laird and Roselie Overby will contribute as well. Thanks again to Gerry Click and all who came and made it another great workshop adventure for LMN–NE.

Now… how did a small town in south central Louisiana get named Sicily Island?

1st Quarter: Dragonflies!

You all know I can’t resist dragonflies and damselflies, right? Imagine my dismay when Arthur Liles posted on our Facebook page about a dragonfly lecture he was going to in Mississippi–Vicksburg? I think so. In any case, I couldn’t go. Bummer.

Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscurus) (male)
Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscurus) (male) at Allen Acres in southwest Louisiana.        (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)

So what’s even better? Getting the speaker to come here!

Our 1st Quarter meeting is actually scheduled the first Sunday of the 2nd Quarter, specifically April 7. We will convene at the Visitor Center at Black Bayou Lake NWR at 2 p.m. to walk the trails and boardwalk looking for Odonates. Of course, we will be distracted by all the other wonderful biota of BBLNWR!

Dr. Doug Clarke will join us there. After about an hour of trail-walking, we will reconvene in the Visitor Center, say about 3:15 p.m., no later than 3:30, for Dr. Clarke’s presentation and Q&A.

At 4:30, we will have our usual 30- to 40-minute business meeting. Remember that all are welcome to our quarterly meetings, including kids and grandkids old enough to enjoy the experience. Non-members are free to leave when we convene for business, or stay and observe if they are curious about us.

Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)
Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) at Black Bayou Lake NWR.        (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)


Geology This Saturday!

Folks, sorry to be so late with this! It is past time to register for this coming Saturday’s Geology workshop. It is the 9th and last in our first series of workshops for those seeking to become certified Master Naturalists.

The charge is $25 as usual and the registration link is live on the Certification tab above. You can also pay on site if you let me know in advance that you wish to do so.

I am still waiting for details from Gerry Click, so the flyer link on the Certification tab is not active. But here’s what you need to know now:

  1. We will convene in the Learning Center of the Franklin Parish Library at 9 a.m. for the classroom portion. The address is 705 Prairie St., Winnsboro.
  2. We will end the classroom portion in time for folks to pick up lunch in Winnsboro, or take their brown bag lunches to the park that is on the left side of the highway going south–the direction we will go, or head straight to the WMA and eat there.
  3. We will reconvene at the J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert Wildlife Management Area at about 12:30 p.m. It is a 40-minute drive straight south on Highway 425 to Sicily Island then a few miles west on Highway 8.

As soon as I hear from Gerry, I’ll finish the flyer and distribute it by email so you’ll have something to print if that is your desire. In the meantime, get registered! And enjoy this photo of a lovely geological display at a quarry north of Pollock, La.

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Home of the Wounded Healer     (photo by Bette J. Kauffman)