Bayou-Diversity

Monday at 9 a.m., Tuesday at 7:45 a.m. and Thursday at 1 p.m.

Kelby Ouchley, former manager of Black Bayou Lake and other area National Wildlife Refuges, provides expert insight into the flora and fauna of Louisiana. Each week, he brings awareness of conservation ethics and education about what makes our area special -- and worth preserving.

Archived editions of Bayou-Diversity (December 2014 and older) can be found here.

Ways to Connect

Frog Poetry

Feb 18, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

There was a poetry slam going down at the pond this warm, winter morning. It was discernable when I first stepped out the front door of my house on the edge of the swamp. Since there are plenty of other water bodies nearby including a bayou and rising backwater, this venue seems to have been chosen expressly for the acoustics. Cajun chorus frogs, a dozen, a hundred or maybe a thousand of them had pulled out their combs and were dragging their amphibious thumbs across the teeth. The theme of the performance was obscure.

Falling Tree

Jan 8, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The days of this tree are numbered and she won't likely last the winter.  This prognosis is not arboreal soothsaying but rather the physics involved in supporting upright tons of wood fiber.  Already she cants thirty degrees northwest and half her root system is embarrassingly exposed to all.  Erosion, that hissing wave of gravity-fueled fluid that drags the main channel of the Mississippi River dozens of lateral miles across its floodplain like a writhing cottonmouth, works 24/7 on Bayou D'Arbonne also.  It broke the anchor chains of this overcup oak.

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Alligators did not welcome the recent spate of cold weather. The least-known aspect of alligator life history involves their behavior during the winter, especially in inland swamp habitat. In general, they retreat to dens in cold weather; but they do not hibernate. Instead, they brumate, a condition when the core temperature and other physiological processes decrease, but not to the extent that occurs in true hibernation.

Singer Connections

Jan 8, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Many people in northeast Louisiana are familiar with the legend of a buried silver bell in the Tensas swamp by the antebellum plantation owner Norman Frisbee. Yet there is another treasure story from 600 miles away with convoluted connections to this same spectacular wetland forest in Madison and Tensas parishes. As is often the case in such tales, anecdotal evidence is bountiful, but hard facts are slippery as fish eels.

Shooting Stars

Jan 8, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Of all natural phenomena, one that never fails to elicit a cry of exclamation is a bright shooting star. Each year the earth crosses several comet dust trails at specific times during its orbit around the sun. Perhaps the most spectacular meteor storm in recorded history occurred on November 13, 1833. During a four hour period beginning at midnight the skies were lit by thousands of shooting stars each minute. Every living person in North America was likely aware of the event.

Tree Connections

Jan 7, 2019
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

At the top of my long driveway through a patch of diverse forest that is at least 130 years old, there was a peculiar episode of mortality not long ago. The deaths involved three large trees that, up until the time their leaves withered and transpiration failed, appeared healthy. They all died within a two month period. The victims were within forty feet of each other,and though trees were of three different species -  a white oak, a mockernut hickory, and a southern red oak.

Antlers

Jan 3, 2019
vasse nicolas,antoine / FLICKR.COM https://tinyurl.com/y7ar8w85

Have you ever wondered why the bony appendages on a cow are called horns while those on a deer are called antlers? Find out why and learn more about antlers from Kelby Ouchley

Goose Mystery

Oct 1, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The source of mysteries is not limited to the likes of Tony Hillerman or P.D. James. Nature also serves up some perplexing whodunits from time to time. On the evening of January 25th, 1983 several people called the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Louisiana where I worked to report unusual snow goose mortality near Jennings. As the regional wildlife disease biologist, I was responsible for looking into the matter.

 

Raw Land

Sep 25, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

No doubt landscapes tug on our psyche. Whether a snow-capped Colorado mountain or a shimmering gulf coast beach, our brains react to certain topographies in peculiar ways. We are all different in our feelings toward distinctive terrains – some attract, some are foreboding. For me there is a landscape in northeastern Louisiana that never fails to stir something below the surface of my consciousness.

 

Pied-billed Grebe

Sep 17, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The degree-toting ornithologists call her pied-billed grebe but in Louisiana she answers to “di-dipper,” or “hell-diver” on a bad day. For her the water’s surface is only an interim point in space and time. That she spends precious few moments there is an aggravation for birdwatchers and boys with BB guns, not to mention the serious predators be they finned, feathered or scaled. Departing the planner ecotone dividing atmosphere and liquid is more graceful if she chooses the denser of the two mediums. The downward dive is faster than the eye can appreciate the choreography.

 

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