To the River and Back Again in Pictures
Or Our Little Piece of Paradise in Louisiana
Each morning, around 9:00 a.m. we (two humans and our two dogs, though sometimes neighbor dogs, Amos and Sadie, join us) make our daily trek down to the Little Tchefuncte River in southeastern Louisiana, filling bird feeders along the way. This is a good way for us to get exercise while the dogs do the same and take care of their business. It also gives us a chance to photograph the seasonal changes of the flowers and plants in our little piece of heaven on earth. Come join us on our walk this morning and meet some of the animals that live in the wooded riparian area along Pruden Creek and the Little Tchefuncte River.
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All photos are copyright Y.L. Bordelon, All Rights Reserved.
Come take a walk with us. It's Spring and the weather is lovely.
Welcome to Hummingbird Hill
Welcome to Hummingbird Hill, our 9 acre backyard wildlife Habitat located near Covington, LA on the Little Tchefuncte River. It's late spring and many of the indigenous creatures are out and about. Some of the native and old-fashioned flowers are also putting on a show.
Each morning Al and I walk along the trails (that he cut by hand), through the Pine woods to the river and back, filling seed feeders along the way. It's our own little adventure as we observe the ever changing beauty of nature. There is always some new surprise to observe along the way.
We hope you enjoy this glimpse of spring in the natural world of southeastern Louisiana.
Nature Walk Poll
Do you like to walk in the woods?
We leave the house by the kitchen door where our container herb garden is located. We find that most herbs need well drained soil, and by planting them in pots and using soil polymers in the soil, we can control the amount of moisture during the monsoon-like rain that we often have.
A Young Great Crested Flycatcher in a Sassafras tree. They nest in natural tree cavities and nest boxes all over the property, but the young ones seem to like the area on the west side of the house.
As we approach the pond, you can see the wood duck box. The mother duck is sitting on her second batch of eggs. Al saw the first brood leap into the water and follow the mother duck to the far side of the pond. We think that this second brood should be hatching soon.
Native Obedient plants (in the foreground) and Pickerel Weed are some of the plants that surround the pond. Hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators use both native plants.
We take a right to go towards the river and Al puts sunflower seeds on the first feeder. The Catahoula dog belongs to a neighbor who lives 3 miles away, but he has decided that it's more fun over here so he waits for us at the door each morning and he walks with us and plays with Rio and Chance. He acts like this is doggy day camp.
Road to the River
The Tchefuncte river is about one quarter of a mile from our house. It is a scenic river with sandy shores and many interesting plants and animals dwell there. The road to the river was built many years ago when there was a dairy farm next door, but when we bought the property, Al had to widen it again.
Wild Mexican Plum Blooms
The road goes past the orchard (where we have Red Mulberry trees, Blueberry and Huckleberry bushes, Pear trees, Satsuma trees, Fig trees and many native Azaleas) and down into a low area that drains the excessive rainwater into Pruden Creek.
Then it's up the hill, under the old wild Mexican Plum tree and Muscadine grapevine. Chance always waits for me to catch up, then runs ahead to show me which way to go. He's so helpful and doesn't want me to get separated from the pack.
Here is where we leave the vehicle road and go west towards Pruden Creek.
We often encounter wildlife on our walk. Here's a non-poisonous Black Racer hiding behind a fallen log. We are pleased that the beneficial Black Racer population seems to be doing well this year.
In keeping with the natural cycle, we use stumps and "Katrina logs" as feeders. This one is right by Pruden Creek on the west side of the property.
Cottonmouth in Creek
We feed the fish at this spot on Pruden Creek and this Cottonmouth Moccasin is taking advantage of the good fishing here.
Into the Woods
The trails through the woods were cut by my husband, Al. He worked for several years before we moved here for good. Right before Hurricane Katrina, he had everything just as he wanted it, then he had to clear them all again.
Strawberry Bush Fruit
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A female Red-bellied Woodpecker and Cardinal eat sunflower seeds at one of the log feeders along the trail.
This Hooded Warbler is nesting somewhere in the low area around Pruden Creek. We often hear their tawee tawee taweeTEEoh as we walk along.
We go under more Katrina tree arches as we turn off the ridge trail to go down to the peninsula in the flood plain.
2nd Chance finds a Cottonmouth Moccasin that is getting ready to shed. Notice the cloudy eyes and how it is rubbing on vegetation. He was bitten once, so now he is a little more cautious about sticking his nose in their face.
This is one of the most unique scenes in our habitat. The cypress knees have formed what looks like a city on another world.
This little peninsula is sometimes under 8 feet of flood water, so we had to secure this bench to a heavy frame that wouldn't float away.
Arrow wood Viburnum (V. dentatum) blooms beside Pruden Creek. This is a small strip of land that separates the Tchefuncte River and the creek. As you can see it is getting smaller with every heavy rain.
The River At Last
The Little Tchefuncte is a lovely river. It begins as a small spring somewhere up in northern Washington Parish and goes through Folsom, Louisiana. After Folsom, it widens and flows under the bridge on Highway 190, near our house in Covington, LA. It widens more when it joins with 2 other rivers, the Abita and the Boque Falaya. That's how Covington got the alternate name of "Three Rivers."
River Catfish and Turtle
Now we're on the trail by Pruden Creek to where it empties into the Little Tchefuncte River.
Al feeds the fish, while Chance waits for me. "What took you so long, Mom?"
"See the fish hitting? Going to get some water, thirsty."
"Ah, tastes good." The Little Tchefuncte is a clean river and we're trying to keep it that way. Arrowwood Viburnum is blooming in the background. Its white flowers are followed by black fruit which are eaten by many species of birds.
Little Tchefuncte River
The view up river is quite lovely. The sandy beaches are unique in a fresh water river in Louisiana.
Our canoe is on a floating platform that Al also built. It's anchored to a stump. During flood stage, this area can go under several feet of water.
While Al feeds the fish on the point, I go along the river path to fill up the sunflower feeders by the double benches.
The path goes down to a low area and then splits. You can either go up the hill or around by the river.
Many mushrooms pop up after the spring and fall rains.
I take the steep trail up to the double benches.
Colorful Damselflies and Dragonflies help keep the mosquito population down.
A majestic old White Oak tree with a hollow portion at the base, stands overlooking the river. Something, probably a mammal of some kind, lives in that hole.
As soon as I fill up the feeders, the birds begin to visit. First a bright red male Northern Cardinal.
Then a male Red-bellied Woodpecker with a very prominent rusty red belly.
Leopard Frog by River
Many Amphibians, like this Leopard Frog, live in the riparian areas of the Tchefuncte.
After I fill the feeders, I proceed down the river path past another sitting area...
to the feeding area where we have the automatic wildlife camera which captures photos of many creatures of the night. The salt and mineral block is for the deer. The does appreciate the extra nutrients.
Al and the boys soon join me at another fish and turtle feeding spot.
Spotted Gar and Turtle
Fish, Pond Slider Turtles and a Spotted Gar wait for pieces of bread. Actually the Gar is there to eat the fish that eat the bread.
Two of the turtles have a race up the shore to snatch some food.
After watching some of the river creatures, I walk past one of the 3 active wood duck boxes to fill up another sunflower feeder at the eastern edge of the property.
And here comes Amos, the neighbors' Catahoula Cur, following close behind is our Rio. What fun!
Where did they go? They're not in this part of the river.
I hear something in the water. Oh there they are. Watch out, wet dogs coming straight for us! Young Amos is still in the lead...
And there goes Rio. Even though he's getting up in years, he still enjoys a good game of chase.
This log is a great place for the boys to play or to sit and reflect.
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Prothonotary in Sourwood
It's so restful to sit and listen to the songs of the birds (like this male Prothonotary Warbler) and the sounds of the flowing water.
On the Road Home
We love gardening and plant many native plants as well as easy to grow, old-fashioned plants in our many gardens. We are also proponents of sustainable gardening, so we mix food plants into the landscape where ever we can. This practice gives us healthy, organic fruit and vegetables and also helps with the biodiversity of our property, which, in turn, helps the wildlife.
After relaxing for a few minutes, we start back. Here's another tree that went down in a recent storm.
Our walk starts on the west side of the property and then we use the trails on the east side on the way back home.
Beautiful native plants like this Royal Fern, Osmunda regalis grow along the road.
Rio and Chance wait for us in the road and wonder where Amos went. Hopefully he went back home through the woods.
Blackberries, that will soon will be ripe
Native St. John's Wort, (Hypericum species)
We turn off the road to follow the trail along the east side of the property.
The nest of a Northern Cardinal is in some shrubs along the trail.
The east trail still needs a little refining. We just opened it back up a few months ago and this is the last large fallen tree that Al needs to cut.
We use the logs we cut to line the path. They provide cover for salamanders and other ground dwelling creatures. We also have erected bird nest boxes about every 100 feet along the trail.
Green Treefrog in Pipe
Besides birds, other animals, like this Green Treefrog use the nest boxes.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bringing Nature Home
This insightful book is a "must read" for anyone who cares about the environment.
Plant Natives Go Green Verbena
Sneezeweed (Helenium flexuosum), and Rough-leaf Verbena (Verbena rigida) are native plants growing beside the pond.
Male Eastern Bluebird on top of nest box. They raised four young here this year.
Wildlife Habitat Journal
This book will help you get started on your own backyard wildlife habitat.
Pink Encore Azaleas bloom 2-3 times a year and the evergreen shrubs provide shelter and nesting places for a variety of birds.
Pearl Crescent on St. John's Wort
This Pearl Crescent Butterfly on St. John's Wort (Hypericum) is one of the many species that visit our butterfly gardens.
Male Prothonotary singing in an Oak tree above our garden where his mate has built a nest in one of the boxes.
Male Broad headed Skink on a Post Oak tree. These colorful reptiles eat termites and other harmful insects.
Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Uses
This is one of my favorite books. It has great color pictures and descriptions of each plant and explains how the plant is used by wildlife or man.
Imported Parrot lilies, a hummingbird favorite that can be rather invasive
Prothonotary Bath III
We hope you enjoyed the tour...
...of our habitat in St. Tammany Parish. We try to keep most of our land natural so that it will support the wildlife that lives here.
Our property is a registered, National Wildlife Federation Backyard habitat (# 22325). Over 100,000 home owners, all over North America who provide the four basic needs for animals: Food, Water, nesting sites and Shelter / Cover, in their backyards have also registered to be a part of this voluntary program. For more information see the National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat site.
Gardening for Wildlife
National Wildlife's, Gardening for Wildlife, book is another good one that shows you how to create a backyard habitat.
© 2009 Yvonne L. B.