Monday, July 31, 2006

Habitat Restoration

Katrina caused the cancellation of some planting projects which had been scheduled last fall along the coast. The NRCS Plant Materials Center, located in Galliano, La., offered some potted trees that had survived Katrina and needed to be planted. So, we hooked up our trailer and headed down to the bayou. Along the way, we purchased some good old boudin and smoked sausage..."humm, but dat's good, yea". We also saw some beautiful native areas. Thanks to Mr. Michael Massimi, Invasive Species Coordinator and Dr. Richard Neill, the Center's Director, we were able to secure 20 live oaks (Quercus virginiana) and 20 red mulberry (Morus rubra) trees.

Mulberry trees provide food for over 30 species of birds as well as numerous ground animals and butterflies. Live oaks are long-lived, hurricane resistant trees and their acorns will provide food for a variety of birds and animals. They are slow growing, but years from now they will be greatly appreciated by others; for as we know, we don't plant trees for ourselves, but for others.

The trees we received will be used in various local restoration projects. Members of the Folsom Native Plant Society will also distribute some to individuals whose wildlife habitats were hard hit by the storms. Thousands of acres of natural habitat was destroyed by Katrina and more is being lost to the rapid home construction throughout St. Tammany Parish. Club members are involved in replanting both public and private areas of lost habitat with native trees.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Egrets, Rabbits & Black Racers

One of the benefits of a forested area of downed trees is that it provides a more secure environment for nesting. We've noticed an abundance of rabbits as well as young birds this summer. Twice we have come across the largest black racer that we've ever seen here. It is approximately 6 ft. long and lightening fast. A baby, snowy egret has followed us along the river to each of four fish holes where we throw floating fish food.

Near the house, 14 hummingbirds were banded this week and most were young males that hatched this spring. The numbers of ruby-throated hummingbirds are still down from previous years.

In early May, we watched a slider turtle bury 18 eggs just outside our bedroom window. This month we are eagerly waiting for the turtle eggs to hatch. We're hoping that the drought we have been suffering through won't affect the developing eggs. We have gotten some relief from the drought, but our rain total is still more than 15" below normal for this year.