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.

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.

Perfect Weather!

The 10-day forecast says 66 degrees and sunny for this coming Saturday, March 6. Perfect for a hike! The Trillium Walk will finally happen.

All systems are go. Dr. Charles Allen, retired botanist and the man after whom this nature preserve is named, plans to be there, along with his wife Susan and daughter Dawn. Scott Meredith of the city of Columbia, which owns the property, plans to join us AND has provided a port-a-john for our comfort! Our birder Roselie Overby is back on tap.

Again, the site is the Charles Allen Nature Preserve in the Copenhagen Hills near Columbia. Don’t bother with your GPS; it will not find this site. The map below will get you through Columbia, and once you’re on Fisher Rd. headed out of town, just keep coming until you see my black Honda CRV parked on the left side of the road.

This map will get you through Columbia. If you are coming from the south, there’s another more direct route. Email me at bjkauffman@gmail.com for those directions.

I plan to be there shortly past 9:30 and hope to head off on our hike at 10 sharp. If you would like my cell # just in case you have trouble, please email me at bjkauffman@gmail.com. BTW, CenLa Master Naturalists, there’s another way to get in if you are coming from the south. Email me if you want those directions.

I cannot be absolutely certain that the trillium will still be blooming. I’m hoping the cold weather set them back but didn’t kill them! The red buckeye should be starting to bloom. Here at home, the freeze turned some of the leaves black on my red buckeye, but the bloom spikes are forming anyway.

I’ll be looking for crane fly orchid leaves to mark the sites for a visit in August when they’re blooming. There’s also a cucumber magnolia–a tree you do not see very often–plus a green ash–and plenty of other wonderful sights, not the least of which is the Ouachita River from the overlook.

Red Buckeye with bloom spikes in formation, on the Charles Allen Nature Preserve near Columbia, La.

Be sure to bring water and snacks if you need them. We will most likely be on the trail for 2 hours. Hiking boots or sturdy sneakers recommended as a short portion of the trail is somewhat steep and the trillium we are seeking grow on the slope of the ridge.

See you Saturday. This hike will be all the more delicious for having been twice delayed!

Saturday+

So… it’s going to be cold, at least early. But the Trillium Walk is on! Don’t let a few degrees chill your enthusiasm. You know Louisiana. By the time we head into the woods, it’ll be warming up. Date changed to March 6, Probably won’t be cold!

Dress in layers so you don’t overheat as we walk. We will have a short but somewhat steep segment of trail. It’s not rocky, just covered with leaf litter. When we get to the top of the ridge, it’s easy walking and views of the river are wonderful. (See below.)

The Charles Allen Nature Preserve is about 2.5 miles past the intersection of Boetner and Fisher Rd. Look for my black Honda CRV on the east side of the road (that’s on your left as you’re coming from Columbia).

I’ll be at the entrance to the Charles Allen Nature Preserve by about 9:30 a.m. this Saturday (2/13/2021 3/6/21). Dr. Charles Allen himself plans to join us, along with his wife Susan and daughter Dawn. We’ll start into the woods at 10 sharp. I have also invited CenLa Chapter folks.

Please note that the map shows you how to get through Columbia. I trust you can get to Columbia on your own. And once you leave Columbia on Fisher Rd. you can’t go wrong. Just stay on Fisher Rd. and keep coming until you find cars pulled off on the left side of the road. It’s about 2.5 miles from the last intersection at the edge of town.

Again, hoping our birders will join us because it is Great Backyard Bird Count weekend, and this site is under-birded. Last I heard, Roselie was coming and she is in charge of keeping the bird list.

NEXT UP: Don’t forget! The Events Committee has scheduled a First Quarter zoom meeting March 7 at 2 p.m. Charles Paxton will distribute an invitation to the zoom meeting. Erin Cox, USWF Refuge Coordinator, will be our speaker and we will have a business meeting.

The Ouachita River from the top of a bluff on the Charles Allen Nature Preserve near Columbia, La.

MORE…!

Our Events Committee has been at work! And they have a lot of great ideas. Here’s what’s coming:

Feb. 13, 9:45 – Noonish: Trillium Walk & GBBC – Calling all birders to join us on the Trillium Walk! It turns out that Saturday, Feb. 13, falls within the dates of the Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count. So we’re going to participate. In addition to spotting trillium, red buckeye and crane fly orchids (see header photo), we will be looking and listening for birds.

I plan to be at the entrance to the Charles Allen Nature Preserve by 9:30 a.m. We want to walk into the woods at 10 sharp. Please see my earlier post here for a map and details. Again I encourage some of you to make plans to meet in Columbia to leave a vehicle in the parking lot there and carpool out to the Preserve, where parking is limited.

BTW, I called the town of Columbia, which bought the property from ULM last year. They are excited that we are using this natural area as intended.

March 7, 2020, 2 p.m.: First Quarter Meeting – Zoom will be the venue for our first quarter meeting this year. (It is my hope and prayer that by 2nd Quarter we will be able to meet in person! But we will stay safe…)

That’s Erin with the giant scissors opening the newly refurbished alligator exhibit at Black Bayou Lake NWR. Photo by the News Star.

The Events Committee has invited Erin Cox, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Refuge Coordinator over several refuges in our area to be our speaker. Erin will give us an 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. After Erin’s presentation, we will have a brief business meeting.

In planning: The Events Committee shared ideas they are working on and I am delighted and excited. These include:

Dec. 5 – Fourth Quarter meeting at Kiroli Park, hosted by our own Stuart Hodnett, who now is parks coordinator for West Monroe. In addition to our meeting, we will go birding in the park. Of course, some of us will also be distracted by the other flora and fauna of the park! Details to come.

Second & Third Quarterly Meetings – These will probably be in May and October respectively. Ideas being considered include asking our own Kelby Ouchley and his brother Keith Ouchley of the Nature Conservancy to lead us on an expedition to the Molicy Unit. Yes!

Additional ideas for meetings or seasonal events include asking Gary Stringer to tell us about his whales at the ULM Museum and inviting the new manager at Tensas NWR to talk about the refuge and the bears.

Is there anything in the above that does not totally excite you? I am so on board with all of this and deeply grateful to the Events Committee for their leadership. Here’s who they are: Charles Paxton, Chair, Suzanne Laird Dartez, Stuart Hodnett, Amy Ouchley, Ann Smith. Kim Paxton took notes for them because, you know, with the Paxtons you usually get a two-fer!

Woohoo! It’s gonna be a good year.