September 29, 2019 An Extraordinary Day Out At The Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge

My wife and I greatly enjoy visits to The Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in Northeastern Louisiana as often as we can. This is one of the best places to see Louisiana wildlife and for visitors to the State it has the added bonus of fast access via the I20 and being near the Poverty Point Indian Mounds World Heritage Site.

At the Tensas River Refuge you have a good chance of seeing some exciting wildlife throughout the year in some very fine scenery that includes mature mixed bottomland hardwood forest, seasonally flooded marshes, open fields, savanna, riparian woodland, gator ponds and lakes. Along with a seasonally varied bird population, the sighting possibilities include the Louisiana Black Bears, Wild Turkeys, White-tailed Deer, Wood ducks, Bobcats, Coyotes, American River Otters, Melanistic Cat Squirrels, American Alligators and Wild boar sounders (non-native invasive species with straight tails), a host of invertebrate species and a range of snakes. This entry covers an amazing day out on September 29th, 2019 where my wife and I were blessed with three encounters that had been on our wish list for ages! A Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), a Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) and a Black Bear sow with cub (Ursus Americanus Luteolus)! In addition we saw three Eastern Ribbon Snakes, six fine alligators, an assortment of spiders doing interesting things, several hundred frogs probably, hopping like popcorn, three Map Turtles, a delightful pair of Raccoons up a tree (Procyon lotor) and it all seemed rather like an amazing dream.

We always begin our adventures on The Quebec Road and park near the concrete bridge in order to look over it for turtles and alligators. This is also a good spot for bird watching and a nice place to look up and down the river. This is a good place to view gar fish and turtles too. When the water is shallow you can see nice juxtapositions of creatures. Also the very fine dust shows up animal tracks well!

We enjoy following the Quebec road to the visitors' center. Keep speed down and windows open to fully enjoy the lovely bird-song and please brake for snakes or turtles on the road..Keep an eye out for Blue buntings and Northern cardinals, bears, raccoons and wild turkeys. This would be a great road to cycle down! The Visitors car park is also frequented by Cat squirrels and you might just as easily see a bear here when its quiet!

The Greenlea Bend Wildlife drive is a safari-style experience, from the gravel drive you can look out over marshes, meadows, woodland and fields for a wide range of wildlife including White-tailed deer, bears, turkeys and even a bobcat if you're lucky, On this day we didn't see much until we approached the woodland adjacent to Rainey Lake. There we saw and photographed a very handsome Western Ratsnake that was sunning itself. on the road.

We then parked beside the Rainey Lake Trail and walked through the woods to the pier and beyond seeing an alligator, bear tracks, a delightful pair of Raccoons who escaped up a tall tree and regarded us, as we observed waterfowl from the pier. Later on we saw a Golden Orb Weaving Spider free climbing and beginning a web,.

To our delight we saw a perfect young Copperhead viper coiled beside a rotten tree stump with a light green caterpillar lure raised to draw one of the many leopard frogs to its jaws. This was our first live copperhead observation and it was a heady experience! They certainly are contenders for prettiest North American snake! I love their air-brushed 'Bow tie' coloration, but I never realized that they are covered in minute brown dots, evenly distributed, even on their eyes! They have two mysterious holes in the back of the head!?! It didn't move a muscle, not even flicker its tongue!

Later on we struck out into some nice looking forest from the road to Indian Lake in search of snakes, owls or whatever else we could find. Kimmie spotted a Timber Rattlesnake cradled in a nice suntrap between tree roots. We were ecstatic! We have always wanted to see one in the wild and here was our chance. It was prettily marked with tan white and black splashes in a dazzle camouflage that works very well. To our surprise, the sunlight refracted blue off some of the scales!!
We photographed it from about 8 feet away and it exhibited no aggression, but remained very still without even flickering its tongue!

We left it and returned on our journey to Indian Lake. The bridge over Lick Bayou is another grand place to look out for wildlife. We saw four very nice medium-sized alligators here and one of them was basking right beside the bridge. Eastern Amberwing dragonflies buzzed over it.,

Posted by charlespaxton charlespaxton, October 03, 2019 21:42

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 22, 2019 01:47 PM CDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Mississippi Map Turtle Graptemys pseudogeographica ssp. kohnii

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 22, 2019 01:47 PM CDT

Description

pictured with young alligator gar

Photos / Sounds

What

Timber Rattlesnake Crotalus horridus

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 11:04 AM CDT

Description

We were hoping to see one and this one was healthy-looking, beautifully posing and nicely lit. It didn't rattle its tail or assume a defensive posture, after a lot of photography and chat it appeared to be looking for a way to escape. Its behaviour could in no way be described as aggressive. We departed the scene. The tan markings match dead leaves very well! The snake had some rather striking blue scales! They scattered blue light or something. Very interesting encounter.

Photos / Sounds

What

Eastern Copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 09:03 AM CDT

Description

This youngster has a pale complexion and light green caterpillar lure. It is the first Copperhead I've ever seen alive and it is one of North America's prettiest snakes. It stayed stock still and didn't even flicker its tongue. We were thrilled to see it and impressed by its beauty and spirit! The tail lure is amazing! Note how the camouflage of speckling continues through its eyes even. A very nice sighting and no sign of aggression. I've always wanted to see one in its habitat. The locale is full of young leopard frogs at the moment.

Photos / Sounds

What

American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 12:11 PM CDT

Description

This is a fantastic location for alligator viewing!

Photos / Sounds

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What

Eastern Amberwing Perithemis tenera

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 12:11 PM CDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 09:54 AM CDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Eastern Black Bear Ursus americanus ssp. americanus

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 08:29 AM CDT

Description

This is a complete set of bear tracks beside Rainey Lake.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Common Raccoon Procyon lotor

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 08:15 AM CDT

Description

It was really nice to see this raccoon couple. They climbed the tree on our arrival and watched us as we watched them.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Eastern Black Bear Ursus americanus ssp. americanus

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 01:07 PM CDT

Description

We were thrilled to see this sow and cub walking down the road to Indian Lake! I've always wanted to see a mother and cub at a safe distance. The encounter was perfect for a long telephoto shot.

Photos / Sounds

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What

American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 12:02 PM CDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Western Ratsnake Pantherophis obsoletus

Observer

charlespaxton

Date

September 29, 2019 07:43 AM CDT

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