Archive for April, 2010

In the Sicily Island Hills, outside the boundary of the wildlife management area, the two businesses that I am aware of are Catahoula Recreation, an ATV park of 320 acres and Norris Springs Gravel. Large scale logging for timber is no longer practiced here.

With respect to any commercial activities within the Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area such as paid guided tours, photography for a fee or perhaps a wedding, permission to conduct such business must be approved by the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Requests to engage in these pursuits should be made in writing to the LDWF Secretary well in advance of the date requested. If you intend to conduct business in the Sicily Island Hills WMA or any Louisiana WMA, contact the LDWF. Additionally, you may be required to be in possession of certain licenses or permits.

Lovers Leap at Sicily Island Hills

Posted: April 23, 2010 in Homepage
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Accessed from the north entrance to Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area, what is locally called Lovers Leap, is one of a few rare places in northeast Louisiana where hills drop off to sheer cliffs. From this vantage point the visitor can look at the small canyon below or gaze at distant vistas beyond the trees.

Photographs by  Landon Powers

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The photographs above show the continuing erosion of the soil here. Enjoy these hills while they last for someday, perhaps even in our lifetime, they may be referred to as the Sicily Island Mounds. If you think I am joking look on my  Photos/Map page at the erosion of the “Little Bryce Canyon” area that has taken place in just the past ten years. What was once a beautiful series of vertical columns has been reduced to an amalgam of plain soil.

Wildflowers are blooming in the Sicily Island Hills. Buckeye, Coreopsis and Phlox are among some of the blossoms currently viewable.

Photographs by Landon Powers

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Buckeye April 2010

Coreopsis April 2010

Phlox April 2010

Always a pleasant experience, Rock Falls is framed with the foliage of native fern and mosses.

Rock Falls April 2010

Upper Rock Falls showing erosion patterns of the soft sandstone.

Upper Rock Falls April 2010

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The photograph below shows Stafford Point at the confluence of the Ouachita and Boeuf Rivers. Stafford Point is the river bank on far left. The Ouachita makes a turn to the left between Stafford Point and the far thin riverbank in the middle of the photo, while the Boeuf River is straight ahead on right side of photo.

A 3D Google Earth map gives a wonderful perspective of Stafford Point. Click the URL below to explore this feature or the entire Sicily Island Hills region.

http://gmap3d.com/?d=539616&s=LA&f=cape

Looking North, the Boeuf River joins the Ouachita River at Stafford Point

Ouachita River looking south from east bank below Stafford Point

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Mid April brings opportunities for viewing the bird life within the Sicily Island Hills. Migratory birds, that is neotropical migrants, have begun their long journey north from the Caribbean, Central or South America. Situated along the western edge of the Mississippi River Alluvial Plain, the Sicily Island Hills which I often abbreviate SIH, can provide food and shelter to many of these passerines.
Before you visit the Sicily Island Hills, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the calls of the various songbirds which frequent this forest. With bird songs fresh in mind the woods will come alive and you will have a deeper appreciation of your visit. To hear some of the calls of these birds click on the Bird Guide link at left.
The Hooded Warbler is a great example of this presence and according to Mike Baranski’s research this warbler is abundant within the shaded confines of the Sicily Island Hills forest, especially but not exclusively in the central natural portion of the wildlife management area. With its distinct, striking yellow and black plumage, the Hooded Warbler is not easily misidentified.
On one occasion Mike was fortunate enough to observe, foraging at very close range, a family of Worm-eating Warblers. The steep stream valleys of the SIH are a great place to listen for the call of the Acadian Flycatcher. If you should happen to be within range of the Pileated Woodpecker, you will never forget the piercing sound of its call.
What’s not to love about the Louisiana Waterthrush? Perhaps its not as colorful as a Northern Cardinal or an Eastern Bluebird, but it is perfectly suited to the habitat of Big Creek in the SIH. The primary body of water within the Sicily Island Hills features many shallow gravelly pools along its winding course much to this birds delight.
Learning about the unique behavior of birds is interesting and helps in your efforts to locate them. The Black and White Warbler invests its time in the lower levels of the forest as it forages for food. Look for it amongst tree trunks and leaf litter of which the Sicily Islands Hills just happens to supply a copious amount.
Catfish ponds north of the Sicily Island Hills may be responsible for sightings from the wildlife management area of Bald Eagles. Mike Baranski told me of an encounter he had one day with a pair of juvenile eagles locking talons in flight.

More soon to follow…