The conditions in November at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe Louisiana can vary quite a lot! Some days it can be warm enough for snakes, turtle sightings and T-shirts and on others you’d better wrap up warm and look out for mammals, birds and cricket frogs rather than the reptiles. Fungi are there all the time, thankfully and offer constant interest and lots of variation. This November began with a glorious show of Autumn foliage, both in the mesic forest and also the drier areas where the Sweetgum leaves shone like fallen stars.

Kayakers on Bayou Desiard as seen from the bridge on the way to Black Bayou Lake NWR

Kayakers on Bayou Desiard as seen from the bridge on the way to Black Bayou Lake NWR

A Great Blue Heron fishing in a pond

A Great Blue Heron fishing in a pond on the approach to Black Bayou Lake on a misty morning in November.

Red Admiral butterfly at the observation tower

Red Admiral butterfly at the observation tower in November, 2020.


Devil's Dipstick stinkhorn fungus on November 1st, 2020

Devil’s Dipstick stinkhorn fungus at Black Bayou Lake NWR November, 2020

Last Sunday (11.22), my wife, Kimmie and I walked the trail that leads to and beyond the Photographic Hide (blind) that has just been successfully refurbished and walked the trail that loops around that pond and swamp area and back to the car park. The highlights were two Cottonmouths, a Mississippi Green Water Snake and a group of five Column Stinkhorns.

It was a very interesting walk, full of memorable moments.


A Carolina Wren

A Carolina Wren sings “Liberty, liberty!” while hunting for insect prey.




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This morning’s walk was cold, but invigorating. We got up early and set off to Black Bayou Lake NWR. We saw distant Pie-billed grebes on the lake by the boat launch ramp and then went to the observation point where we heard and glimpsed but not photographed Brown Creepers and saw a Fox squirrel lying low in the fork of a high tree, beautifully lit by early morning sunshine. We heard distant gun-fire as it is deer season, but were untroubled because this area is a no-hunting zone.

Then we went on to the very nice trail that passes the Photographic Bird Hide (blind). Not five minutes from the trail-head Kimmie spotted this handsome Lion’s-mane Mushroom Hericium erinaceous on a log.

We walked to find our stinkhorns from last Sunday but they had melted away. There was no sign of them at all. We walked a short loop walk around a small lake and were pleasantly distracted by some fungi and the apparent calls of a Red-shouldered Hawk (that actually issued from a Jay), we came upon a fine bird-wave beside the lake, about a long-stone’s throw from the car park.

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The skein of geese was very high but we could hear them honking, a wild soul-stirring sound for sure.  Kimmie’s report for EBird of confirmed sightings is as follows below. She’s hot stuff on the bird observation and identification. The Yellow-rumped Warblers are known affectionately as Butter-butts! We tend to see flashes of yellow as they depart hurriedly. 

Photo Blind Trail, Monroe, Louisiana, US (32.6, -92.04)
Nov 28, 2020
8:48 AM
10 minutes
All birds reported? Yes
A fine bird wave with many birds in close proximity near or over the water

1 Red-bellied Woodpecker – OS
1 Downy Woodpecker – OS
2 Pileated Woodpecker – OS
1 Eastern Phoebe – OS
1 Blue Jay – OS
1 Carolina Chickadee – OS
1 Brown Creeper – OS
2 Carolina Wren – S1
3 Yellow-rumped Warbler – OS
1 Northern Cardinal – OS

Number of Taxa: 10


We hope you stay well and can get out in the fresh air.