Earth Day Hikes!

It’s Earth Day and Herp Day at Black Bayou Lake NWR. Friends of Black Bayou (FoBB) and Louisiana Master Naturalists–Northeast (LMNNE) are pleased to offer a pair of hikes that will get you moving and learning.

A green frog (Lithobates clamitans), wonderfully camouflaged against the muddy bottom of Black Bayou Lake near the boardwalk on a recent LMNNE outing.

The first hike will kick off from the Visitor Center at 10 a.m. This hike was initiated by Girl Scouts but is open to families who want to join in. Several Master Naturalists and Friends of Black Bayou will accompany the hikers to point out interesting flora and fauna along the boardwalk and answer questions.

The second hike will begin at 6:45 p.m. in the Environmental Education Center with a short talk about frogs and frog sounds–with examples to tune our ears. The hikers will then circumnavigate the pond in front of the Visitor Center, then, as dark is falling, head down the boardwalk.

Daytime hikers are more likely to catch a glimpse of this western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus).

The frog chorus at night is a thing to behold. This hike is open to all who are curious about night in the swamp and interested in learning to identify frog sounds and other night critters. Herpetologist John Carr will be with us, as well as a number of Master Naturalists and Friends of BBL.

So come on out, day or night or both! Right now, the forecast for Saturday is partly cloudy, but protection from the sun is recommended for the day walk. For both walks: bring plenty of water, bug screen, and snacks if you need them, plus wear walking shoes.

See you Saturday to celebrate our Mother Earth!

1st Quarter: Quail

This coming Sunday we will gather on zoom at 2:30 p.m. for our 2022 1st Quarter program and meeting. And just maybe this will be our last members’ meeting on zoom? We can hope!

No later than 2:35 p.m., I will ask a member of the Events Committee to introduce our guest speaker. Austin Klais is a wildlife biologist associated with Quails Forever.

From the Quails Forever website.

Quails Forever is sometimes knows as “the habitat organization.” Its mission is to conserve quail, pheasants and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public access, education, and conservation advocacy.

We will have opportunity for questions and discussion. This should be a highly interesting and informative hour.

At 3:30 we will conduct a short business meeting. Items on our agenda include upcoming events, especially Rendezvous 2022.

Please be reminded that our meetings are open to any person interested in learning more about us. Members should have received the zoom invite via email earlier today. Please do not share it on social media but feel free to send it to people you know who might want to attend.

If you did not receive the zoom link via email and want to attend, please contact me via <>.

I’m looking forward to seeing you Sunday on zoom!

Waterfall Hike

This Saturday, Feb. 26, Master Naturalist Suzanne Laird-Dartez will lead a hike to the waterfalls in the J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert Wildlife Management Area near Sicily Island. Don’t miss it! This is surely one of Louisiana’s most beautiful and unusual WMAs.

St. Mary’s Falls

One thing that makes this WMA unusual is the steepness of the terrain. Indeed, it has waterfalls! Waterfalls are not at all common in mostly flat Louisiana. Suzanne recommends that you carry a trekking pole. I have two and I can’t go so if anyone wants to borrow mine, contact me to make arrangements.

To join the hike, 1) be at the Rock Falls Trailhead inside the WMA at 10:30 a.m., OR 2) be at the Dollar General in Wisner at 10 a.m. to caravan to the trailhead. After hiking the 1.5 mile Rock Falls Trail, those who want more will caravan to the St. Mary’s Falls trailhead to hike another 1.5 mile loop.

In addition to a trekking pole, bring your own water, snacks, and bug repellent. These trails are rather steep and rocky in places; wear serious footgear.

Also be reminded that to visit a Louisiana WMA, you need a current hunting, fishing or wild Louisiana license.

Trillium (Trillium sp.) on the Rock Falls Trail, March 2019

Finally, it’s late February. That means you might get to see a snake and it almost certainly means the trillium will be up and possibly blooming. Keep a sharp eye and have fun!

This event is hosted by Louisiana Master Naturalists–Northeast but is open to all who are able to handle a “moderate difficulty” hike. Here’s a link to Suzanne’s Facebook event: Waterfall Hike.

February Fun

Folks, we have some good stuff scheduled in February! Here’s an overview.

February 10, 5:30 p.m. – Nature Photography 2, conducted by Charles Paxton on zoom. That’s this coming Thursday evening. Contact Charles at <> for the zoom link.

February 13, 2 p.m. – We’ll meet at Black Bayou Lake with our kayaks and canoes and paddle to the eagle’s nest. If you need to rent a kayak, contact H2Go. I’ll do a blog post about this event with additional details soon.

Black Bayou Lake, Kayak View

February 17, 5:30 p.m. – Wild Talk, an online conversation salon about natural history subjects. The subject for February is “Birds.” I am busy planning quiz questions! But I want others to provide quiz questions as well, because I can’t compete answering my own questions, right? So… we just had a terrific Birds workshop and LOS has just completed its winter meeting; sharpen your pencils, folks. This should be fun and educational. Again, contact Charles Paxton at <> for the zoom link.

February 26, 10 a.m. – Suzanne Laird Dartez will lead us on the Waterfall Hike at the J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA near Sicily Island. We’ll meet at the Dollar Store in Wisner. I’ll do a blog post with more details on this event closer to the time.

February 27, 2:30 p.m. – 1st Quarter Member meeting; guest speaker: Auston Klais, Wildlife Biologist with Quail Forever. Zoom event. Again, blog post with details forthcoming.

Screen capture, Quail Forever website, 1/30/2022.

Its looking like a fun month! See you soon.

Picture this!

Everyone can take better nature pictures, and an opportunity to learn how begins Thursday of this week.

The LMN-NE Events Committee is offering a series of basic nature photography workshops via zoom beginning Thursday, January 20, at 5:30 p.m. The meetings will begin with a bit of introductory conversation as people gather, then focus on specific nature photography topics. Participants will share tips and tactics from their own experience.

Charles Allen and me at the cattail pond on the Charles Allen Nature Preserve near Columbia, La. I have no recollection of what I was taking a picture of, but very possibly a dragonfly. More importantly, I have no recollection of who made this photo. Anyone want to claim it? I’d love to give you credit.

Who knows? You might pick up an idea that will make a difference in LMNA’s statewide photography competition, offered each year in conjunction with our statewide conference, Rendezvous. The photo above would go in the “naturalists at work” category.

Master Naturalists from across the state have also been invited to this series, so you will get to meet some new folks. Charles Paxton is the host. To prevent zoom-bombing, the zoom link is not published here. Contact Charles via email at <> and he will email you.