Bayou-Diversity

Monday at 9 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.

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In the mid-1970s I lived for a while on an old homestead in the shadow of Driskill Mountain, the highest elevation in Louisiana.  There the sole source of water for drinking, cooking, washing, and life in general was a small spring behind the dog-trot house.  For many people in the hill parishes, shallow hand-dug wells and springs provided water until subsidized community water systems, which relied on deep bored wells, were developed.  Dependable springs, in particular, were a treasured resource on any property.

    

Bullfrogs

Aug 24, 2015

Eighty years ago wherever there was freshwater habitat in the state of Louisiana, it would have been difficult to sleep during the warm nights of May.  The booming territorial choruses of our largest frog, said to resemble the roaring bellows of bulls, were common.  Now greatly diminished in numbers throughout their range, bullfrogs are native to the eastern half of the United States.  

There is an art exhibit at the Masur Museum in Monroe that you should not miss.  It is titled "Emily Caldwell - Naturally."  I can't tell you what Ms. Caldwell was thinking when she created this art.  I can, however, point to its origins.  She insisted on experiencing her subjects first-hand in situ.  As an informal guide I led her to wild places and stood aside.  The art in this show is a result of her mental foraging on these excursions.

Not long ago a cousin passed along to me a chair that once belonged to my great-great-grandmother.  She is said to have brought the chair with her when she came to Union Parish from the Atchafalaya Swamp or south Mississippi.  No one is sure which.  She died in 1925 at the age of 77.  The chair is laden with hints and mysteries of lives past.

    

East Carroll Odes

Jul 13, 2015

People who don't live in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana go there for various reasons.  Most are likely passing through on Highway 65 heading north or south for destinations far from the rural, egrarian landscape.  

It's been that way for a while.  

Foolish Snake Myths

Jun 29, 2015

The myths that surround snakes are almost as amazing as the irrational fear that many people have of these reptiles. 

It is likely that more people injure themselves trying to kill harmless snakes than are harmed by poisonous ones.  The myths are just as foolish.

After 20 years of traditional Bayou-Diversity radio programs, I am wandering into the realm of prose poetry.  Here's a couple for your consideration:

  • "Troubling Time"
  • "Notes on Albert near Brookhaven, Mississippi: August 22, 1979"

    

  Lest you think French influence on our state is restricted to the southern half, consider the sinuous streams of northeast Louisiana.  They flow through our geography with Franco-laden labels both pure and bastardized - and with good reason.  Frenchmen were the first to establish a lasting presence.  They were not Acadians.They plied every major stream in northeast Louisiana.  They put their names on nearly all of them.

Turkey Vulture
K Schnelder / Flickr.com

  Vultures get a bad rap.  At best they are thought of as nature's garbage men - not a bad label, by the way.  At worst they are considered dirty, disease carrying scavengers - not a true representation either. 

Vultures were once thought to be kin to birds of prey such as hawks and eagles, but recent DNA work has revealed a much closer tie to storks, and they are now placed in that family.

As a boy, I never looked forward to hay-cutting time.  It seemed to be scheduled for the hottest days of summer and stacking the bales in a low, tin-roofed barn aggravated the situation. 

Blistering spears of profanity were sometimes launched by the driver of the hay cutting tractor, and were triggered by a small, bare-tailed mammal with buck teeth that was derisively called a 'damn salamander.'

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