To revise a line from one of my favorite movies, “Well, Mister, we’ve got something in this country called a Louisiana Boat Ride.” Sunday morning, June 7, Lana and I left the house around 4:50 AM to go and join Scott Schexnaydre, a local photographer who graciously offered to take us out in his boat. We went out to an area of marsh lands called Lake Boeuf, and had a great time. Scott took us to several rookeries where we saw hundreds of adults and young herons and egrets of various species. There were numerous grackles as well, and these were some of the biggest I’ve ever seen. Many of the dark black males were nearly as large as crows. Lana got a picture of a female grackle with a mouthful of dinner. “Yum! Yum!”
Lana also captured an Eagle in flight, and got pictures under a bridge of some baby barn swallows still in the nest.
At that same bridge, I spotted some Lubber grasshoppers. We watched one of these complete a molt. These are a huge variety of local grasshopper. The babies are young and mostly black with stripes of red. They are found in large numbers together and look almost like crickets. The adults, though, are yellow and black and easily stretch the length of a man’s palm.
Most insects, and other normally small critters, grow big in Louisiana, which has close to a tropical environment. As we were going out toward the lake this morning I noted masses of pink slime on many tree trunks and on the reedier grasses. Scott and Lana knew what this was, the eggs of a type of invasive snail species called the Red Apple Snail. Pictures will be forthcoming. I found one emptied snail shell, which was about the size of a golf ball, and later saw a live snail on a tree extruding its eggs. It was much bigger, about the size of a tennis ball. Scott got us close to get pictures, and almost put his hand on a normally unseen denizen of the marsh area, a very large water spider about the size of a baby’s fist.
Nature simply can’t be touched as a provider of beauty and entertainment. (All photos courtesy of Lana Gramlich)