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)


Rendezvous Events

Rendezvous 2019 is just around the corner and you still have time to register. However, registration has now topped 100, so you need to do it soon. The Board has not set a cap, but we know that Fountainbleau will not accommodate an unlimited number of people.

So this is going to be a post of docs for you to look at. Here’s the speaker list:

Rendezvous Speaker List/Schedule

Please note that our local expert and workshop leader John Carr is among them! So is Micha Petty, who shared his experiences as a wildlife rehabber at one of our quarterly meetings.

Our own Charles Paxton is heading up the photo contest. Here’s his flyer:

Rendezvous 2019 Photo Contest Flier

Please note that you do not have to attend to enter the photo contest. Charles or I will be happy to transport your best shot to Rendezvous, but you must prepare it according to the rules provided in the flyer.

And, finally, yours truly is co-chairing the silent auction once again. Here’s our flyer:

Silent Auction Flyer

We do need quality items for the silent auction. This year we have set the minimum bid at $5. Please think about what you have that you’re willing to part with. Another option is to approach merchants you patronize and ask them to donate something. All proceeds from the silent auction benefit the conservation and education activities of Louisiana Master Naturalists.

Again, I am going and I know the Paxtons are going, so please let us know if you have items that need to be transported.



Upcoming Workshops

March 23, 9 – 3: Geology with Gerry Click

Folks, this one had to be moved. It was originally scheduled March 2, but that is the Saturday before Mardi Gras. Gerry Click is a really, really nice guy, but, hey! The committee did not notice or we would never have scheduled it that day.

Gerry Click

So it’s now rescheduled March 23. Sure hope y’all can accommodate the change. And… Gerry says we’ll do our field work at the J. C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA near Sicily Island. Yay! Now I just have to find a place near there where we can do our classroom work. On it!

April 13, 9 – 3: Bugs with Dr. Natalie Clay

This is a new one, just added to our calendar a week or so ago.

Dr. Clay is a faculty member at LaTech. Last April she received the prestigious Elton Prize awarded annually by the British Ecological Society for the best paper in the Journal of Animal Ecology written by an early career author at the start of their research career.

Dr. Natalie Clay

No details on this one yet, but I’m sure we’ll convene in a LaTech classroom then go somewhere out that way for field work. Dr. Clay’s response to my suggested timing: “Yes, should be lots of bugs around then.”

BTW, this is the first of a new cycle of workshops. Of course, the way we have set up our certification process, it really doesn’t matter. All are welcome up to 20 people.

May 4, 9 – 3: Plants with Dr. Charles Allen

Again, Dr. Allen will meet us somewhere south of here. We are hoping the ULM Biological Station, Charles Allen Nature Preserve does NOT flood this year.

Y’all know a bit about Dr. Allen by now. He will introduce us to basic plant identification terminology using specimens he brings with him, then get us into the field identifying plants ASAP.

Wild Lettuce (Lactuca ludoviciana)
Dr. Charles Allen

Since parking at the Biological Station is pretty limited, I’ll be looking for a place in Columbia for us to convene, then car pool the few minutes it takes to get to the field. There are no permanent toilet facilities out there, so I just might rent a port-a-pottie for us so we don’t have to drive back to Columbia for lunch.

This is our first “repeat” workshop. As usual, all are welcome, but I will give registration priority to people who did not do the plants workshop last year and need it to complete their certification process.

It’s a busy, busy time of year. Look for another post soon about a photo contest opportunity and the LMNA silent auction fundraiser.

And just for good measure…. after everyone else had driven off Saturday, I was still poking around the edges of Russell Sage, and found the moss below. Yesterday, I posted this on iNaturalist, and within minutes had received an email inviting me to participate in a citizen science project around this moss. How cool is that?!

Common Bladder Moss (Physcomitrium pyriforme)
Common Bladder Moss (Physcomitrium pyriforme)     (photo by BJK)



In Search of Sign

And there’s plenty to be found, not only at Russell Sage WMA I’m sure, but that’s where we were today doing field work for our Mammals of Louisiana workshop, led by Dr. Kim Tolson of the ULM biology program.

IMGP7916 72-15Who knew so much animal poop is around! We saw raccoon, otter, beaver and coyote for sure.

Then there’s the photo to the right. Doesn’t look like any of the above to me. Too glossy black and seed/berry free to be raccoon? Muskrat, maybe? Nutria? We were on a primitive “road” between flooded woods on one side and a flooded field on the other.

And where there’s mud and mammals, there are tracks. No short supply of either in Louisiana!

So we saw lots and lots of white-tail deer tracks; no surprise there. Raccoon tracks were probably the second most plentiful. Most exciting? Bobcat tracks! How do we know? First note the absence of claw marks at the ends of the toe pads. Then there’s the distinctive 3-lobed shape of the anterior edge of the foot pad.

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In the photo above, one track is partially superimposed on another, so you see distinctly the four toe pads on the track in front–minus claws, of course, because cats walk with their claws retracted.

The two center toes of the back track land right in the foot pad of the front track, but… if you look at the anterior edge of the back track, you can clearly see the 3-lobed pattern. I’ve outlined it below to make sure everyone sees it.

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BTW, was this bobcat running? Look how deep the toe tracks are, and might that account for why the back track partially overlaps the front track? If you have a thought, comment below!

So… we also saw beaver and otter slides, deer trails and deer rubs, an armadillo den, and more. Charles Paxton started our very own LMN-NE Natural History collection by picking up bones: a striped skunk skull, a raccoon skull and more. I picked up a bowfin skull left behind by a well-fed otter. It will have to spend some time in a fire ant nest before it can be brought indoors.

Finally, I should mention all of these signs came at the end of a highly informative morning in a classroom poring over specimen trays and learning about mammal dentition. We even took a quiz! Thankfully, we were not required to actually calculate our score.

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Harbinger of spring. Yes, the violets were blooming!

Photos by Bette J. Kauffman.

Rendezvous 2019

It’s just around the corner. Rendezvous 2019 is March 15-17 at Fountainebleau State Park on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain near Mandeville, La.


Rendezvous is our annual statewide Master Naturalist meeting. This year is our 4th and the third I will attend, and I predict it will be bigger and better than ever. Education will be our focus as always, and Fountainebleau offers excellent, diverse natural areas to explore.

Rendezvous begins at dinner time Friday night and will end with lunch Sunday. However, it is also quite acceptable to come and go as you are able. We will do a continuous BioBlitz from the time we arrive Friday until the last people depart Sunday.

The registration fee is a modest $80; it includes food and lodging, if you’re willing to stay in a dorm-type cabin in the state park (one for men and one for women). Numerous hotels are available in Mandeville and the surrounding area, if you prefer. You can register online via the LMN Association website.

Here are several documents that will tell you most anything you want to know. I and Kim Paxton are on the statewide board and have been part of all the planning discussions, so don’t hesitate to ask one of us if you still have questions.

Rendezvous Announcement 2019

Fontainebleau Information and Color Map

Fontainebleau Park Map 2