Archive for March, 2010

In the interest of efficiency, https://sicilyislandhills.wordpress.com  is now http://sicilyislandhills.com

I made this change to make the website URL easier to remember. My commitment and  policy of no paid advertisements will continue. Any ads that do appear are my support of environmental or humanitarian causes. The sole purpose of this site is to collect and disseminate information about the Sicily Island Hills, and at the same time act as a central repository of knowledge about the region.

My goals in 2010 are to post many more photographs, begin adding videos later this year, search for other possible waterfalls, and add more details about the hiking trails within the wildlife management area.

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What better time to visit the Sicily Island Hills to bird watch as spring migration begins. Due to the field research and generosity of Michael J. Baranski, a graduate of the Biology Department of the University of Louisiana-Monroe, I am able to provide details of bird life within the Sicily Island Hills.

The Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area prior to 1980, that is before LDWF ownership, was logged for timber in various parcels. The biological study areas of the WMA, explored by the LDWF and Mike Baranski,  include Clearcut, Select, Untreated and Natural which bear out these previous management results. For example consider the following:

Clearcut Select Untreated Natural
Acadian Flycatcher Common Common Very Common Abundant
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher Uncommon Very Common Uncommon Very Common
Brownheaded Cowbird Uncommon Uncommon Very Common Common
Hooded Warbler Very Common Very Common Very Common Abundant
Northern Parula Very Common Very Common Common Common
Pine Warbler Common Abundant Very Common Very Common
Red-eyed Vireo Common Very Common Common Common
Summer Tanager Uncommon Common Common Very Common
White-eyed Vireo Common Absent Common Very Common
Wood Thrush Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common
Worm-eating Warbler Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Common Very Common Common Common
Yellow-throated Vireo Uncommon Common Uncommon Common
Clearcut Select Untreated Natural
Acadian Flycatcher Common Common Very Common Abundant
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher Uncommon Very Common Uncommon Very Common
Brownheaded Cowbird Uncommon Uncommon Very Common Common
Hooded Warbler Very Common Very Common Very Common Abundant
Northern Parula Very Common Very Common Common Common
Pine Warbler Common Abundant Very Common Very Common
Red-eyed Vireo Common Very Common Common Common
Summer Tanager Uncommon Common Common Very Common
White-eyed Vireo Common Absent Common Very Common
Wood Thrush Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common
Worm-eating Warbler Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Common Very Common Common Common
Yellow-throated Vireo Uncommon Common Uncommon Common

Stretching across a broad swath of central Louisiana from the Texas border to the Mississippi border, a wonderful set of highways collectively named the Colonial Trails Scenic Byway feature a great set of destinations off the beaten path in Louisiana. From Toledo Bend Reservoir and Natchitoches to Marksville and the Sicily Island Hills, with interesting places in between, there are many choices along the way to enjoy the culinary, cultural, historic, and scenic treasures of this state.

Click on the Blogroll link at left to learn more about the Colonial Trails Scenic Byway.

Birdwatchers, Hikers and Nature Lovers Please Take Note!

Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area makes up the vast majority of the Sicily Island Hills bioregion. This message is for all that visit the Sicily Island Hills and is not intended to philosophically divide those that visit the area to hunt from those who do not hunt. Simply put, it is about safety and respect. If there is a hunting event by lottery only on certain dates, it would be best to delay your visit to the area if you are not involved in that event. Were it not for hunters these hills might not be in the state of accessibility and preservation that currently exists. Out of respect for the multiple uses of Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area, it would be advisable to visit for non-hunting purposes on other dates.

Additionally, be aware that if you visit the Sicily Island Hills WMA or any Louisiana  WMA,  you must be in possession of one of the following; a valid LDWF fishing license, a valid LDWF hunting license, or a valid Wild Louisiana Stamp.   Minimal expense for maximum enjoyment is what you get when you make one of these purchases. Not only that, but when you buy one of these licenses or stamps, two things happen. Funding for maintaining your wildlife management areas and the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program is provided. You will avoid the sting of being cited for being in violation of LDWF regulations. I purchase a Wild Louisiana Stamp, I heartily suggest you purchase one as well.

The youth turkey hunt  has come and gone, but the current dates for regular turkey hunting are as follows and are only for those chosen in the special lottery of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. If you go turkey hunting on these dates or at any other times and are not chosen by the LDWF for this lottery, you will be in violation of hunting regulations.

 

March 20-22
March 23-25
March 26-28
March 29-April 2

This information is posted on
the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website at:

http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/pdfs/hunting/lotteryhunt/LOTTERY%20HUNT%202010.pdf

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Whether you go to the Sicily Island Hills to bike, bird watch, hike or just commune with nature, each season is unique.

In Winter, with the exception of Beech, Magnolia and Pine trees, the foliage of the vast timber is on the forest floor, leaving the trees bare. At this time of year the tree trunks stand out against the backdrop of the steep hills, so it is a great time to go birding. Every thirty years or so, to make winter especially delightful, there is heavy snowfall.

In Spring, wildflowers and trees begin to put on a show. Dogwoods, magnolias, and Silky Camellias fill the forest with their white blossoms. By watching the weather radar maps at home online, you may be able to visit the waterfalls at Sicily Island Hills during a torrential downpour. Just remember that heavy rain makes for slippery slopes and dangerous conditions.

Summer brings the shade of trees and the running water of the waterfalls is a welcome retreat from heat and humidity. Wildflowers for the most part on break for the summer due to high heat and summer drought.

Fall brings cooler, less rainy, and less humid weather normally, and the search for colorful foliage. The fall of 2009 was an exception with copious amounts of rain falling in a short period of time.

Birdwatcher, Hiker, Nature Lover Alert!

Each year at  the Sicily Island Hills WMA, there is a date set aside for a Youth Turkey Hunt.  March 13th is the date for this 2010 youth hunt. Participants are chosen by lottery.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries works hard to make this special day a success for the youth involved so please consider this if making plans to visit the Sicily Island Hills.

That birdwatchers, hikers or other nature lovers would feel inconvenienced is unfortunate. Think about it, were it not for the fact that the Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area was purchased and developed for wildlife management including hunting, this unique place might be privately owned and unavailable for recreational use of all types.

So please be aware of hunting seasons and dates at Sicily Island Hills and hug a hunter next time you see him or her. Their recreational pursuit brought about the initial preservation of the Sicily Island Hills and created your opportunity to enjoy this wonderful piece of terra firma.

For more information go to the LDWF site at:

http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/pdfs/hunting/regulations/Turkey%202010.pdf

Once again,  unless you are participating in the Youth Turkey Hunt, please choose to not visit Sicily Island Hills on March 13, 2010.

“The beauty of the Sicily Island Hills is not just in the scenery, but in the camaraderie and cooperation achieved there, to the benefit of all.