Rockefeller Wildife Refuge

Today, I visited the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier, LA.  I’ve passed by this place quite a few times and read about it in Gay Gomez’s book “A Wetland Biography: Seasons on Louisana’s Chenier Plain“.  The refuge lead a pioneering study on management of the American Alligator in the 70s that brought a new understanding to the animal and surely, helped to save them from extinction.  The site currently serves as a wildlife refuge as well as a research station for marsh and shoreline management where many ongoing research and experiments for marsh restoration are currently in progress.  The refuge serves as a sanctuary to migratory and neotropical species of birds as well as home to many year round residents of the Chenier Plain.

I first dropped in at the headquarters of the refuge to see if anyone was home.  Although several Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries vehicles were out front, there was no one manning the office on a Sunday. I did note that buildings were built high on pilings.  I assume this is to mitigate the damage from the frequent storm surges of hurricanes that visit this area.

The headquarters is built on a feature that is known as Grand Chenier.  Cheniers are old beachheads that have been isolated from the Gulf of Mexico by marsh advancement and are recognizable by their higher elevation from the surrounding marsh and the presence of species that cannot tolerate the salt water at low elevations in this region.  “Chenier” means “place of oaks” in French and these ridges are the only habitable land in this area.

I drove about 0.75 miles west of the Rockefeller Headquarters and found a sign that said “Price Rd”.   I drove down to the end of the road first and found a little dock that extended out into the marsh.

Other areas along Price Rd are open for personal fishing and crabbing.

I met a nice family from Rayne, LA that was crabbing at the dock this afternoon.  They had twine tied to chicken parts dipped in “melt” that I was assured was a family recipe.

Apparently, the melt worked, because this family was rolling in crabs.

Two young boys showed off a red eared slider they caught.  They intended to keep him as a pet, although he was bigger than the turtles they were used to.

Price Rd had fishing and crabbing opportunities up and down its long stretch.

Roseau Cane.   The marshes to the south were all lined with this very familiar common cane.

Oil and gas operations even happen here in the refuge.  Managers and leasees work hard to ensure O&G operations don’t impact the local wildlife.

This overlook is situated about halfway down Price Rd.  It offers a great perch for gulls and cormorants while offering great views to visitors.

Birds

Male Grackle.  Very brazen birds that won’t hesitate to pick up anything humans throw away.  This particular grackle was eying a fisherman who was deheading shrimp prior to using them as bait.

The gulls were not happy that I ascended the overlook to take pictures.

Red winged blackbirds were out in force.  The males, displaying their impressive red markings every time I got near.  They were either defending their nests or coming on to me.

Great egret.

Cormorants typically like to roost on anything solid enough to hold their weigh.  A whole lot of them decided to sun on this old dock.

A lone cormorant rests on an old pole.

I believe this is a green heron.  When I was taking its picture, I didn’t actually know whether I was looking at a bird or not (my vision is awful), but apparently, I was.

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Other Animals

American Alligator.  This guy was sunning himself on the bank near the entrance.   I saw three more during my trip here, but they were all in the water.

Rabbit.  This guy stood frozen, swamp on one side, gator to the other.  He didn’t move an inch the whole time I photographed him.  Rabbits are really common to see on the side of the road down here.  They generally stick to the ridges.

 

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