Fish’n Trip

•April 19, 2010 • 2 Comments

Jeanne-Marie has been waiting to go on a fishing trip with me for quite some time. We finally had the chance to go and she invited her older sister, Elizabeth-Kay to come along with us. It turned out to be a great day and we caught three fish in about four hours.

This picture to the left is an alligator gar that EK caught while trying to reel in a crab on her line. This is a baby gar and we sent him back into the lake after taking this photo.

Below are the two other fish we caught. The flounder was a nice size about 17″ long and the Red fish was 16″.  Both of them are good eating and we would like to thank them both for their contributions to our family diet by offering up themselves to our oven and grill.

There were beau coup boats coming in and out of the harbor channel where we were fishing disrupting the water. Also, when gar fish are around other species tend to run off as well. So we were glad to have caught these fine specimens and look forward to more excursions in the near future.

Conservation Stewardship at the White Kitchen

•April 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

swamp-tree-veinsSince Katrina many of our waterways and nature grounds have been twisted and mangled. Sometimes for the good like when new land has formed and sometimes for the not-so-good, like when affected areas no longer drain well.  One such area that combines these two situations is an area in Slidell known as the White Kitchen Preserve.

I’ve spent a significant amount of time tromping through the swamp and woods in and around that area since 2005 and have fallen in love with its beauty, charm, challenges, and mystique.  Feral hogs have a gazillion superhighways throughout the pines and hardwood oak trees while incredible symphonies play in your ears.

Birds, including a bald eagles’ next,  line the rim around Wineskin lake, a small rookery filled with about six feet of fresh water spilled over from the rain and the Pearl River’s drainage.  It is a great postage stamp for bird watching, fishing, and taking a paddled boat out for a spin.  I am in the process of educating myself on this area so that I can be of help in properly maintaining this great treasure.  I have gotten in touch  with several individuals and am excited about being a part of true preservation.

God has given us such a wonderful place to visit and use for our benefit. To litter, abuse, and desecrate such a blessing is the height of mockery and disgrace.  Biohydrologist Tom Kennedy of nature-conservancy-logothe Nature Conservancy has been gracious enough to allow me to be infiltrate this community effort and soon I will calling a local meeting so that we can learn from each other and form a solid presence here in our area.

Stay tuned for more to come.

Camp Providence

•October 23, 2008 • 1 Comment

Behind Mr. Dave’s house the long, wide right-angled road stretches through the back of several properties and brings you to the open woods and swamp.  Hog trails feed like mini-veins into each oak tree’s canopy.  Like pipelines each trail intersects in and out of the trees from the main road to the back grass lines where the ground is glazed with compressed flotant debris.  Around the bend is a micro-forest of dead trees that stand like salt-poisoned sentinels awaiting their orders from deep within the bayou.

This is where moccasins like to sunbathe.  This is where mosquitoes swarm and deer flies bite. This is where forty hues of green melt into new palettes.

Fern leaves fan the ground around gentle curves that have been repaved since Katrina beat them into submission.  If you walk quietly you can find beautiful brown swamp rabbits nibbling on their latest snack as they hop across the tall weeds and brush. The symphonic swamp sounds play more like an improvisational jazz quartet as stationary frogs bellow out their rhythmic croaks and unknown flying insects hum and buzz in syncopated tones.

Each step forward sloshes with methane-scented mud and each movement onward leaves the pavements further behind. The self-made trails are still fresh showing signs of having been cut by hand and gas-powered saw.  Stacks of sticks and limb nests sit on each side of the ATV ruts.

This is where fresh coon tracks are found.  This is where work tractors get stuck. This is where filtered sunlight paints wonderful thumbnails.

Well beyond the hog trap and closer to the new lake begins the covered walkway through the last wooded patch. Like a woven tunnel it shoots out into the rookery path that moves up and down in steep slopes to the marsh’s edge.  Deep grass floats along the rim while Wineskin’s waters ripple and lap and press against newly made earth.

This is where alligators nest. This is where fish and frogs congregate. This is where brackish beauty meets a long autumn day.

Uncle Ted on Gun Control

•August 15, 2008 • 1 Comment

What is so difficult about understanding the need to defend oneself from evil doers?  Not allowing citizens the ability to arm themselves against rioters, muggers, carjackers, thieves, rapists, terrorists, or anyone who attempt to do us harm is to do nothing but create more victims.

Ivory Bill or Regular Bird?

•December 28, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Today I spotted a huge woodpecker in my neighbor’s yard. It was high in the pine tree hammering away at the bark and trunk getting some dinner. The tack-tack-tack was loud.

I looked up and saw a bird the size of a crow rotating around the tree’s girth, dancing in cylindrical fervor as only a hungry woodpecker can do. And then something clicked in my head that this was the rare ivory bill woodpecker. So I dashed inside to get my binoculars.

Peering through the lens I saw its red headdress and white markings and my heart fluttered. Can it be? Is it?! I ran back inside and called the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries office and got a voice mail recording. I called the Audubon society and got no answer. I Googled up other groups and no one was home so I called back the LAWF and got a nice woman who said that it might be the pileated woodpecker.

Take a look at how close they are in design.

This is the Pileated woodpecker.

This is the Ivory Bill woodpecker.

Unreal. They look exactly alike except that the Ivory Bill of course has an ivory bill and more white. I didn’t get enough time to investigate him before he flew off.

I’ll be looking for him again when I hear his insect-gathering hammer going off. Till then I’ll dream of new discoveries and better eyes.

Sugarloaf Mountain

•June 30, 2007 • 1 Comment

I hiked up Sugarloaf Mountain in Heber Springs, Arkansas. As you can see from the picture it has a three-tiered top-dense woods up to the top, then about forty feet of rock at the summit followed by a crowning cap of dirt with a mini-forest right on top hosting a small series of tiny trails.

It was a beautiful hike up the slow descent and an even better climb once I hit the rocks. Pushing up the hills and rocks reminded me of my need to improve my cardio-work and get in better shape.

I’ve never climbed through crevices and up boulders like I did on this trip. I had to make some interesting maneuvers once I got to the rock tops that would have made even the happiest of mountain goats a bit envious.  Looking straight down through the slits and off the ledges makes one a bit cautious knowing what awaits if your boots miss their next step or you inadvertently move too far left or right.

In this shot you can see the approach you have to take to make it to the top of the top.

Once on the top of the mountain there was a trail running through a small tree patch that leads to several wide rock platforms jetting out like capped off boulders.  The view from there was spectacular and the quiet even more satisfying.

Hogs, Frogs, and Acid Trippin Parasites

•June 12, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Benji Bends in Swamp Pose

And so we set out to find some hogs. We found frogs. We set out to find gators. We found more frogs. We heard oinks and grunts and all manner of scurrying and rapid retreat, but we were not able to make visual contact.

Legion avoids death yet again. Devil pigs!

But we shall not be discouraged for in due time we shall reap that harvest, unless we die first.

Benji’s fun. He loves the stench, heat, dirt, grit, and acid trippin’ parasites that plunge the bough’s outer rim as much as I do. He’s half my age.

We need more training in how to identify calls and sounds for some of the humid jangle sounds the same. I would most assuredly hate to be found tracking down a massive bullfrog instead of a swine meal or find myself ready to harvest a grunting boar only to find that I’m standing on top of an alligator’s first date of the new season.

Education and endurance are good things. Maybe Benji will agree to wearing chicken livers around his ankles next time.