It finally happened. Meredith and I went kayaking last weekend on Lake Martin in western Louisiana. The lake is famous for it’s stunning swamp habitat and immaculate diversity of birds and wildlife. We decided the most appropriate way to explore this habitat would be via kayak, so we arrived early in the morning to beat the heat of the day. After about 30 mins on the water, I instructed Meredith to back her kayak up into a large gaping hole in the side of a tupelo tree while I got into position to take her photo. After I had taken a few shots something drew my attention off to the right side of the tree. I quickly realized what the object was and was even quicker to tell Meredith not to panic while paddling around the tree…because she was about to see her first alligator. We were both slightly skiddish turning the corner to meet our new reptilian friend, a baby alligator only about 3 feet in length, but he turned out to be more interested in capturing the morning sun than us. Needless to say, I was pretty dang excited to finally see what I had perceived as the “highly elusive” American alligator. We ended up seeing 15 in total.
But there’s so much more to Lake Martin than alligators, it’s also a nature preserve managed by the Nature Conservancy and is home to the United States largest wading bird rookery, or nesting habitat. A large portion of one side of the lake was actually roped off due to bird nesting season. But that didn’t stop us from seeing dozens of birds including little blue herons, roseate spoonbills, egrets, and whistling ducks. One of my favorites birds we frequently saw were anhingas, a black bird similar to an egret that lacks oils most waterfowl have to wick water off of it’s feathers. So following any time it dives into the water, it has to spread it’s wings out to air dry which is quite a fun spectacle. Unfortunately, between our GoPro and cellphone cameras we didn’t anything with a strong enough lens to capture any decent shots of the birds. You’ll just have to go visit some day.
In other news we had our first visitor, Drew Lange. Meredith and I both got to know Drew through rowing at Purdue and we have continued to remain good friends. He now lives in Houston, TX and accompanied his sister to Baton Rouge just for one evening. We took him to the boardwalk on the Mississippi River and had dinner at Canes because we love cheap food. Drew was a great warm-up before my sister and brother in-law, Elizabeth & Nathan, visit next week with our favorite niece/nephew combo, Evelyn and Jameson. You’ll get lots of pictures of them in the future. We’re both very excited not only to show them our new home, but to see family for the first time in nearly 5 month.