Several Bald Eagle overflights were memorable incidents on our photographic walk! Walkers also enjoyed Barn Swallows, Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue birds and Wood peckers.

Several Bald Eagle overflights were memorable incidents on our photographic walk! Walkers also enjoyed Barn Swallows, Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue birds and Wood peckers.

 

By C. Paxton Wildopeneye is celebrating the recent Photographic Walk and Talk at Black Bayou Lake NWR. It was  organised by Deborah Evans of the Friends of Black Bayou group, and took place Saturday March 17th  and afforded a group of over twenty photographers some varied and outstanding encounters with wildlife alongside experienced wildlife photographers and Refuge Manager, Erin Cox. It was remarkable how much wildlife we saw and photographed with so many sharp eyes on the look-out.

It was a warm spring morning and we gathered at the Visitors’ Center and after signing in received a useful handout with information about the various different camera settings and their pros and cons with regard to wildlife photography. Doughnuts and coffee were made available during the preamble.

We then set off and explored the trails and boardwalks as far as was practically possible considering the spring flood water.

 

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We saw several Rough Green Snakes, these non-venomous, slender, bright green tree snakes are slim as a pencil and very graceful. They were perfectly situated within three feet of the boardwalk and some ‘lifer’ photos resulted!

A Rough Green Snake, tasting our scent from its branch lair over the Black Bayou swamp. These delightful snakes are to be enjoyed in situ, their harrassment or removal is forbidden.

A Rough Green Snake, (opheodrys aestivus) , tasting our scent from its branch lair over the Black Bayou swamp. All the refuge’s delightful creatures are to be enjoyed in situ, their harassment or removal is forbidden.

We also several Broad-banded Southern Water Snakes, one swimming and several at rest. The bluish opaque look to the eye scales suggests that this individual is getting ready to moult. Snakes shed their outer skins regularly as part of their normal development, as they grow they need to cast their old skin. If you are very lucky you might see a perfect shed with their facial skin intact! Snakes tend to be moody when they are about to shed and the “no touch rule” is especially sensible at this awkward phase when their vision is restricted and they might be more inclined to be defensive if handled. None of the Louisiana snakes are aggressive, you aren’t on their menu. Give respect and you’ll get respect.

Southern Broad-banded Water Snake at rest on a Bald Cypress knee. These are non-venomous snakes that feed on small fish and amphibians in the swamp.

Southern Broad-banded Water Snake at rest on a Bald Cypress knee. These are non-venomous snakes that feed on small fish and amphibians in the swamp.

An obliging Mississippi Green Snake, non-venomous with a lovely gradient to it's lighter belly.

An obliging Mississippi Green Snake, non-venomous with a lovely gradient to it’s lighter belly.

 

American alligator basking on a fallen tree beside pier 1 at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This image was shot on Pentax K-1 with Sigma 70-300mm APO macro lens at 300mm. It is cropped and tone mapped in Affinity. C. Paxton image and copyright.

American alligator basking on a fallen tree beside pier 1 at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This image was shot on Pentax K-1 with Sigma 70-300mm APO macro lens at 300mm. It is cropped and tone mapped in Affinity. C. Paxton image and copyright.

We also enjoyed multiple Green Tree Frog encounters and also a Bullfrog.