Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Louisiana Swamp Tour Alligators

Tuesday July 22, 2009

This Louisiana swamp tour started out with a family from India, as seen above.

Before we left the landing, the lady in the front of the boat asked if it was safe. She was really concerned about alligators. I do appreciate her concerns.

As seen in the signage below, the only time alligators are really aggresive towards people is when they are nesting or have been fed by people.

To protect the alligators from dumb tourists(sorry if the shoe fits!)
We have had to close the walking trail to everyone as seen below.

The problem with tourists approaching an alligator nest is that most tourists don't know that the alligator is nesting there to start with and worse, most don't know an alligator nest when they see one. At this point, out of curiousity they get closer to investigate this interesting looking mulch pile, and being unaware that the moma is usually very close to the nest, in the water, and ready to fly out of the water onto land, just like she does when feeding, the tourist is caught off guard big time.

When approached a moma alligator will launch herself from the water onto land with such speed and force that you might hurt yourself trying to get away! She then starts hissing to warn the intruder that she means business. All of this is really a big bluff for the most part, but mission accomplished from her stand point.

Consider this: anyone filing a complaint with the Wildlife and Fisheries against an aggressive alligator is causing that gator and possible other gators to die. By law, the Wildlife and Fisheries is required to remove(meaning kill)any alligator that causes an aggresive alligator complaint. They come out and set a series of hooks baited with chicken, on heavy fishing line, and kill every alligator that they catch.

It is an outdated, and mostly stupid law, but none the less it is in place and enforced and many alligators die from doing something as natural as protecting their young.

And so to protect alligators from stupid tour guides please consider the following: As of August 2008 the state of Louisiana banned the feeding of wild alligators anywhere by anyone(including swamp tour guides), except on alligator farms.

We lost about 50 of our big gators at Lake Martin, in the last 10 years because another tour guide was feeding every gator around the lake while on tours.(And I am quoting him on that.) Feed an alligator one time, one day, and he is coming up to your boat the next day. Then when he approaches someone who doesn't know the alligator has been fed, they usually shoot it to "protect" themselves or call in an aggresive alligator complaint. Either way the gator dies.

I started him in the business and taught him better, and tried to warn him of the consequences of feeding all the gators all the way around the lake, but apparently my so called friend, doesn't care who or what he destroys to make a buck.

Truth be told, they don't eat us, we eat them, and because we are their only natural enemy, alligators have nothing to fear except human beings, so they always hide when someone approaches that they don't know. Unless... a moma alligator is guarding her eggs or someone has fed the alligator.

In the later, a fed gator is a dead gator! They become a pest and have to be exterminated. As a result of swamp tour guides and tourists feeding gators we now have a good law in Louisiana govenment designed to protect alligators from being fed. So.. any tour guide who feeds gators is in violation of Louisiana law as of August, 2008.(some laws are not so stupid) I do have to wonder why this law was so slow in coming.

If you are a visiting tourist and you want to see a gator upclose in the summertime, please consider your interests as secondary to the alligators survival. Should an alligator approach you, do not feed it to lure it closer, or fear it, because someone else has already fed it and it's long-term survival depends upon learning to avoid contact with people. And if you do feed it, consider it may cause you to be given a citation and a fine.

Below is a trumpet flower AKA crossvine, which is a favorite foodsource for hummingbirds and butterflies. Just try to take a photograph of something that has like 90 wingbeats a second!

I am working on the hummingbird photo, and I know where there is a nest! But in the meantime, I have some butterfly photos below.

Above is a Yellow Swallowtail on a passion fruit blossum

After todays tour we went to Chicken on the Bayou in Henderson. I need to ask the owner if the sign is being repaired or if they are changing the name. As you can see in the photo below, the sign on the front of the building is being renovated. If you click on the link above, you can see how it looked before the hurricanes last year.

Then there were a few signs I hadn't noticed before, as seen below.

In the cooler below you can buy smoked alligator sausage and crawfish boudin!

And in the freezer below, are frozen delicasies such as alligator, turtle, and frog meat. You have proberbly heard that we eat everything in Cajun country. Not true. We are born into the greatest pantry of wild foods in North America, and we only eat the good stuff. But, to the outsider, it looks like we eat everything!

And here is the best the best reason for visitiing the Chicken on the Bayou.
I had Crawfish Ettouffe with fried shrimp as seen below!
And... Christina had the fried shrimp poboy as seen below.

The Chicken on the Bayou(AKA The Boudin Shop) is typical of the little mom and pop restaurants where the food is as good as home cooking, and reasonably priced compared to the tourist traps which are typical references at the tourist information stops along I-10.

And for music this week I went to see Cedric Watson at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette as seen in the photos below.

Everyone genuinely had a good time!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lake Martin Sunsets

Tuesday July 14, 2009 started off with a morning tour.

It started with some great shots of a Redwing blackbird on the nest as seen above.

Then we got to see some newly hatched babies in another nest!
And... a new nest under construction as seen above.

After the morning tour we headed to The Creole Lunch House in Lafayette as seen below.Ms. Merline was her sweet charming self as usual.

I got the chicken fricasse with blackeye peas and turnip greens.

And Christina got the fricasse with blackeyes and pork and beans.

And then came the sunset tour, starting at 6PM.

It ended on Tuesday, July 14 with an amazing sunset tour as seen above and then after the tour I went to the Latin dance lessons at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette as seen below.

The Blue Moon Saloon is the ONLY place I go, to listen to music in Lafayette, because it is always fresh air. ( I hate second hand smoke!) The images below is not Latin Dance night, but is more typical of a Friday or Saturday night.

And then on Friday July 17, 2009 we had an incredible visual treat at sunset in Lake Martin as seen below!

Wow, what a week!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July Swamp Tours are off with a Bang!

What a great holiday we had!

Everyone was so warm and appreciative of my guide service and our shared experience of family fun and adventure filled trips into the wilderness of Lake Martin.

It started on Friday, July 2nd at 6pm with a sunset tour. That tour was coming to an end with the sunset shot above. Then we crossed the lake to take the photo below of the same sunset with a different set of trees about 10 minutes later.

Saturday, July 3rd we started at 6:30am and I caught this image below of a dragonfly floating on the water, right out in front of the boat landing.

In the photo below, I was so touched by the little girl in the life preserver singing about Jesus's love for her and all the little children of the world.

In the background of the photo below, you can see a giant Bald Cypress, six feet in diameter.

In the photos below after the cypress forest and the bayou, we moved across the lake to take in the beauty of the American Lotus, which are in full bloom all summer long.

In the photo below, July 4th fireworks at my friend Ed's house in Carencro. Ed is the manager of the Holiday Inn Holidome convention center in Lafayette. He always invites my daughter and I for New Years and July 4th fireworks. We light up the sky and always eat too much because it is soooo good!

This is my daughter, Christina, in the photo above, showing off her cool new hair style for this summer.

Monday July 5th, we started with another gorgeous day at sunrise with a family from Joplin, Missouri and came upon these images below of a Redwing Blackbird nesting.

At the end of the tour the great looking clouds in the photo below foretold of what was on the way later that day.

Unfortunately later that day, the family from Alaska in the photo below, got a great start for our sunset tour, but the drought broke about an hour into it and we cut it short and headed in, in the rain.

It was a gorgeous image in the bayou with the rain falling, but I didn't dare pull out my digital camera and risk water damage.

In spite of our being rained out, in the end, I was given a generous tip for entertaining my guests with Boudreaux and Thibodeaux jokes while we got soaking wet in the bayou. I wish I had a waterproof camera.

Anyway, we here in south Louisiana all breathed a sigh of relief for a brief respite from the drought of last month.

On Wednesday, July 8th, I took out a couple from Denmark who were trying desperately to get on a tour at the last minute.

In the photo below, we had a fine time with my Catahoula dog Jesse(who is a son of Bob).

And his 12 week old son, Gus in the photo above.

There were so many interesting things to photograph, such as the butterfly that landed on the boat in the photo below.

And... a wasp, that crash landed and was fluttering on the water below.

Also, a bagworm hanging from a cypress branch, in the two images below.

In the bayou, we came upon my good friend Butch Gauchereaux, owner and operator of Cajun Country Swamp Tours at Lake Martin.

In the image above, Butch is teaching about the importance of duckweed in the ecology of the swamp. He is well respected and knowledgeable, having a degree in botany and zoology.

And then he went to the alligator nest we had just visited...

The colors in the swamp are vibrant after a good rain, as seen in the images below.

When we got back to the lake there were many gators cruising around as seen below.

We went on to take some incredible sunset photos as seen below.