Day 21: Junior Naturalist, Louisiana edition.

I have so much that is barely digested about New Orleans, Louisiana, cemeteries, history, etc. In the mean time, here is a barely digested list of species I have identified so far:

Pickerelweed. Growing in the Barataria preserve in such great numbers that I couldn’t resist breaking out my new field guide to identify it. It’s about 2-3 feet tall, with bluish flowers in a cone at the top of a long stalk. The leaves are shaped like hearts. It grows densely in any swampy area that gets decent sunlight.

Bald Cypress. These trees also grow in the swamp, and as far as I can tell, they send up knobby little bald baby roots through the water (presumably to get more air). They were tall—maybe 50’—and I can’t tell you much about the leaves because they were quite high up. The roots form buttresses.

Unidentified: There was a climbing vine all over Barataria that had red berries on it—looking a bit like raspberries, but I wonder if they were blackberries. There were sedges with little prickly bits on top.

Green anoles. These adorable lizards chill everywhere. They are bright green (mostly) and can jump quite well—from palm frond to palm frond. They had a neck pouch which inflates for reasons I do not know. Overall they were not super skittish.

American Bumble Bee. Looks like a regular giant bee, but with a black rear end.

Five-lined skink. Not totally sure here, it was a stripy lizard with a bluish tail.

Broad-headed skink. Not totally sure here either. It was a black lizard that was totally chowing on some kind of larva in the bark of a tree. Gave zero fucks that we watched.

American Alligator Speaking of no fucks given, have you ever met an alligator in the wild? They give no fucks. They may not be capable of giving fucks. The one we saw at Barataria apparently hadn’t moved in three days. Because why move when you’re the scariest thing out there? Who cares if someone knows where you are?

Virginia Willow—a plant with cones of white flowers. Not that different from pickerelweed, except white.

Also saw: Bull thistle, broad-leaved arrowhead, white pelican, bald eagle, gardenia, magnolia.

Eastern pondhawk is a dragonfly that looks awesome. I would invent this dragonfly as a branding element for 8 year olds if it did not already exist—it’s basically lime green, with black stripes on the back. Rock and roll.

Black vulture - they look like vultures, with black heads. (Red head = turkey vulture). There were a gazillion of them, but the most impressive was seeing ten of them in a line on a gate. That’s a whole lotta scavengers.

Red winged blackbirds - these always remind me of Minnesota.

Hey! It would be useful to know what you're interested in. So vote for what you like!