Bayou-Diversity

Monday at 9 a.m., Tuesday at 6:45 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

Noise

Jun 25, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

It is quiet here now on the edge of this swamp, quiter than it has been in many years. Perhaps the level of background noise approached that when my father was a boy here 75 years ago. I live in the woods off a rural parish road and almost two miles from a major highway. Even so, typically a steady barrage of traffic sounds - mainly from log trucks on the highway - filters through the trees to persist as an annonying backdrop.

Mayhaws

Jun 18, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

For those of us who might be considered unrefined epicureans, May is the month of ritual pleasures involving a wild gourment treat. It is the season to gather Mayhaw fruits and make one of the finest jellies to grace a buutermilk biscuit.

Born of the southern swamps, mayhaws are small trees technically considered hawthorns in the rose family. They grow in wetloands across the Southeast and are usually found only in soils that have a sandy component.

Darters

Jun 11, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Probably the most popular kinds of fish in this area are bass, white perch or crappie, bream, and catfish. They are well known because they are fun to catch and good to eat. However, in terms of biological diversity, this group falls at the bottom rung of the aquatic ladder. In Louisiana, there are only two species of black bass, two species of bream-like sunfish. Another group, almost completely unknown even to amid fishermen, swims our rivers and creeks with dramatic diversity of form, color, and species. Collectively, they are called Darters.

Lunar Cycles

Jun 4, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

For as long as humans have looked up into the night sky, the moon has caused people to behave in strange ways. One of the most peculiar is the tendency for people to correlate phases of moon with various human behaviors. Lunar cycles have been claimed to affect homicide rates, traffic accidents, suicides, the birth of babies, assaults, emergency room visits, casino payout rates, and psychiatric admissions. The only crazy thing here is that scientific studies have failed to show any reliable significant correlation of these events with lunar phases.

Lowland Oaks

May 29, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Oaks were once a major component of Louisiana landscapes. From the highest hills to just one step above cypress brakes, oaks were found in a variety of habitats. Today we'll consider those that grow in lowlands, such as are found in the parishes east of Monroe to the Mississippi River.

Oaks can be divided into two major groups consisting of red oaks and white oaks.

Vicksburg/Loess

May 29, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The Civil War citadel of Vicksburg fell on July 4, 1863. On that day, Confedearte regiments marched out one at a time and stacked their arms. Of that occasion, General Grant's telegraph operator, Samuel Beckwith wrote, "The trampling of myriads of feet had stirred up a fine, yellow clay dust that coated our garments and filled our eyes and ears and nostrils until it was almost unberable." Like the union soldiers, this dust had origins far to the north of the Vicksburg hills.

Crow Concerns

May 17, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Crows are very intelligent, have fascinating personalities, and when I watch them it's hard for me not to personify their behavior -- as in this case.

Old one-eyed crow danced around the fox lying on the roadside. He knew the miracle was coming. Still warm into death, the fox was about to give up his soul.

Wilderness Store

Mar 19, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Less than three months after Union Parish was carved from Ouachita as a new political entity, William McKay died there intestate leaving a grieving widow and two-year old daughter.  In 1839, Union Parish was essentially wilderness and sparsely populated, the surge of immigration by settlers from eastern states just over the horizon.  McKay owned a store on the Ouachita River, either at what would later be called Alabama Landing or farther south at Ouachita City, or maybe even at the mouth of Bayou de l'Outre.

Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Biologists often just call them herps, an abbreviated version of the term herpetofauna meaning the reptiles and amphibians of a specific region.  The herpetofauna of Louisiana is diverse because of our mild climate that is conducive to the well-being of cold-blooded animals and because of our great variety of habitat types, from upland forests to brackish marshes.

Weather and Wildlife

Feb 19, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Spells of harsh winter weather occasionally disrupt the daily lives of many people in Louisiana.  Technological advancements in the last 100 years, however, minimize the impacts to a short period of inconvenience for most.  Consider the differences now and during the Civil War era as described by a Confederate soldier.

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