I’ll be back sometime in the future about our new home in New Mexico. Right now Sam and I are on the road again back home visiting in Louisiana. While Sam has been spending a week of music classes at the Louisiana Folk Roots Music Festival, I decided to head “down the bayou” and visit with my wetlands friend Wendy (http://bayouwoman.wordpress.com/).
Wendy and I met quite a few years back while we were both on the yearly Bayou LaFourche paddle. We discovered a lot of common interests and the fact that she had written a children’s book on wetlands loss in Louisiana. Before we both knew it, we were in touch often and she came to my second grade class and read her book to my students during a Louisiana Wetlands theme I was teaching.
After catching up on our lives and getting a tour of her new house that is under construction, we headed out on her pontoon boat to the marsh and swamp near her home. Imagine how nice it is being out on the water in only a few minutes after leaving your house!
The day is mostly overcast with the sun trying to peak through a few holes in the clouds. It’s a warm day but with the wind blowing on a moving boat, it felt a bit cool. On our way out through canals and Lake De Cade we pass camps, oyster boats, airboats, tugs, parked oil platforms and the native plants and birds.
Wendy slows to a crawl as we enter a canal to head into the swamp. We float by swamp lilies, Common Moorhen, gators and redfish breaking the surface of the water.
The marsh gives way fairly quickly to a waterway lined with large cypress trees draped in spanish moss. The newly emerged bright green cypress needles contrast with the silvery grey of the moss. The place has a magical feel to it. Up ahead are a small flock of Snowy Egrets fishing from the knobby knees of the cypress.
I can’t come up with the words to describe this small section of swamp so I will let a few pictures do it for me…
Around a bend a dock an old camp comes into view. Wendy tells me that this used to be a small community. The camp that is in front of us is still in use. It’s owners come out to hunt and fish. Yes, the only want to get here is via boat!
Wendy tells me she has permission to use the camp so we pull up to the dock and have a look around. Bird songs fill the air. We sit down to snack and watch the skies. It’s not long before we’re seeing small birds fly back and forth across the water. Closer looks reveal Prothonotory Warblers, Vireos (that remain unidentified), Cardinals, Carolina Wrens, Grackles, Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice.
The beautiful Prothonotory is sometimes called the Swamp Canary because of its preference for swampy habitat, beautiful song and bright color.
As we sit and enjoy we hear the “Who-Cooks-For-You” hoot of the Barred Owl. We hear a male and female calling back and forth to each other with the calls coming closer and closer to each other. We know they finally meet when both calls come from the same space in the trees. A few minutes later we watch two large brown shapes silently fly across the water to the other side of the canal. Wendy and I smile at the opportunity to view this not so often seen raptor. We get the opportunity to see these birds again when they fly back across the water towards where they originally came from. We see where they perch in the trees. Both of us snap pictures. The pictures I got were of the owl turned away from us. Hopefully Wendy got a picture of one looking at us. You’ll have to check her blog to see if she did!
Wendy and I moved back and forth between fishing, taking photos and watching for birds. We watched every little movement in the trees. Wendy yells out “I see a Painted Bunting!”. She grabs my binoculars and gets a quick look before the small, colorful bird flies across the water to a tree closer to us. She hands me the binoculars and I get a quick look before the bird flies off again. I have been wanting to see this bird for years with no luck. It’s not commonly seen in Louisiana – only during migration. Even during migration it’s hard to see because of its shyness.
Other sightings included a racoon climbing a tree across from us and small alligators sunning on logs.
We finally decide to head back. We slowly motor down the canal passing more birds like the Little Blue Heron.
We head towards the marina where we grab a bite to eat. We leave the marina as a big black cloud heads our way and make it back to the dock just as it’s starting to rain. What an enjoyable day with wonderful friend! Wendy’s tours are available to anyone visiting the area. Check out her website: http://wetlandtours.com/