Thursday, April 15, 2010

Louisiana Swamp Photography Safari

Grande Avoille Cove, circa 1992

A Yellow Crowned Night Heron photo I took on tour this week

A photo of a Snowy Egret by Al Guidry

A pair of nesting Spoonbills

This is how it all began...

More than 25 years ago

A photo of Cattle Egrets nesting, by Tanya Landtmeters of Belgium

Tanya skinny dipping at Avery Island

Before I ever built the houseboat and became a full time Louisiana Swamp Tour Guide, I was guiding personal friends of mine into the Atchafalaya Basin swamp to put them into close photographic proximity of nesting birds.

My houseboat at Grand Avoille Cove in the Atchafalaya Basin

What really amazed my friends was the fact that I could bring them 10-15 feet away from these birds and not disturb the birds normal behavior. Because I lived on a houseboat and worked as a commercial fisherman, I visited the birds everyday, and we developed a relationship of mutual trust and respect.

I would come and go, never threatening or disturbing anyone so why should the birds panic when I showed up with a photographer in my boat?

A night heron hen, incubating eggs on her nest
and keeping an eye on us in the tour boat below

Queen Tanya nestled into the loft on my houseboat, at sunset

Because of my guide skills and service to birdwatching
and photography friends,
they suggested I become a full-time Louisiana swamp tour guide.

I told them they were crazy,
because no one would ever pay me to drive them into a swamp!

Little did I know they were looking into my future at the time.

I never planned, dreamed or imagined becoming a swamp tour guide, because back then, to my knowledge, commercial swamp tours were not even in existence in Louisiana.

A photo by Marc Garanger, a National Geographic photographer from France,
who took this photo of me in my old wooden skiff, over twenty years ago.

I built the houseboat to fullfill a personal desire to embrace nature, and to share that passion with other people, I began doing swamp tours.

My swamp tour guests photographing a Great Egret taking flight

As I grew up hunting and fishing the marsh and swamps with my father, I was being groomed to be a swamp tour guide and never knew it at the time.

I took this with my cheapie pocket camera from the road overlooking the rookery north of Lake Martin, while guiding Larry this week.
A Rosette Spoonbill

An egret roost at another rookery south of Lake Martin

My first butterfly of the season!

And the dragonflies are coming out too!

Because it was my photographer friends who inspired me to be a tour guide, I still love to do private photo safaris to remote locations for special people on occasion.

My friend Larry with a real wildlife camera,
focusing in on a rosette spoonbill engaged in nesting activities.

That's one really ugly bird!

I took Larry and his wife to some private areas outside of Lake Martin this week to do a photo safari of nesting birds and to eat at The Boiling Point in New Iberia.

We had fried catfish, fried crawfish, and fried shrimp, and as an after thought, I ordered a half order of boiled crawfish too!

Maybe Larry can send me some of his photos for me to share with you here in an upcoming post.

In the meantime here are a couple of pictures sent to me by some other Lake Martin safari photographers recently.

A photographer named Al Guidry was on the road and took a photo of me as I was leaving the landing to start a Lake Martin Swamp Tour a few weeks ago and sent it to me as seen below.The aluminum crawfish skiff I built to replace the old wooden one as a commercial fisherman over twenty years ago is still my ultimate swamp tour boat today, because it allows me to get into the shallow, densely vegetated areas most boats cannot access, and that is where the most wildlife is likely to be found.

If you would like to contact Al to order prints,
or to hire him for photography services;
337 406-0927

The photos below are provided by Al Guidry for your viewing pleasure.

Another photographer named Claude Nall took a panoramic photo of these two Lake Martin alligators below, from his kayak on the north side of the lake.
This is the kind of photo opportunities you can have if you join me for a swamp tour or photo safari at Lake Martin or some of the other private locations I guide my friends to in My Wild Louisiana!

Red Heron Sunset, Lake Fausse Point, circa 1992

If you would like to call me for reservations for my regular 2 hour Louisiana Swamp tour, the cost is $20/adult, and $10/seniors and children. I can be reached on my cell phone at 337 298 2639. And please bear in mind; tours are by reservation only. There is no regular schedule, because I am often fully booked for custom, private, full day trips. Also I launch from a wilderness area, public boat launch, so there is no storefront, reception area or restrooms at the landing. Unless you have reservations, you are most likely wasting your time to drive out, hoping to catch me there. Furthermore, I do not have time to do businesss by email, telephone communication is your only reliable means of contacting me.

Thank You, Marcus de la Houssaye