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The Wilds In and Around New Orleans

New Orleans can be pretty hot and humid. While I was there, it was 80 to 90 degrees during the day and at least 70% humidity the whole time. When I left, it was similarly hot in Portland (although less humid), so it wasn’t as much of an adjustment as it could have been. I found out that Labor day weekend is the earliest part of the tour season that lasts through Mardi Gras at least. With such a “tropical” climate, the flora is lush and the fauna a bit more wild than in the Pacific Northwest (like cute, tiny lizards that wander about house lawns and gardens).

Female golden silk spider in the  John Lafitte National Preserve

Female golden silk spider in the John Lafitte National Preserve

Wilds In the City (Park)

There were a number of creatures to find in City Park, where I first got to know a bit of New Orleans life. The first thing you notice in the morning and at night are the cicadas making a constant and loud “buzzing” sound that is a lot like crackling electricity. It is actually quite soothing in a sense. During the day, you will likely see white swans, black swans and water birds that meander about looking for their meals (either from natural prey or tourist offerings). I happened upon a turtle resting on a low branch that barely scraped the bayou surface. I also saw a plethora of dragonflies of different colors, most notably green ones that I had never seen before. It was pretty amazing to see such different creatures than I’m used to.

Lafitte National Preserve (Barataria)

For part of a day, we went to the John Lafitte National Park and Preserve along the Barataria road. We specifically took the Bayou Coquille trail out from the road along the bayou, through the swamp and out to the marsh. There was a lot to see along the way with little areas that had slightly different combinations of bayou water, trees, insects and so forth. There were two specific creatures that caught our attention.

Young alligator in the John Lafitte National Preserve.

Young alligator in the John Lafitte National Preserve.

The first creature we noticed, as they were all around us, were the golden silk spiders. These rather large looking spiders hung in golden yellow webs along the trail, on either sides of the trail and overhead. The golden color of the web was pretty spectacular and made the anxiety of trying to dodge the webs a little less overwhelming. However, they were simply gigantic, and I had a hard time feeling relaxed as a result.

The second creature we observed was a younger alligator that floated ever so quietly in the swamp waters near the edge of the pathway. It wasn’t easy to spot at first, and one of my hosts even thought they saw another one at another point. They sit so calmly you’d think they were dead except they clearly remain poised not inanimate. It was tempting to want to prod the one gator we saw just to verify it was alive, but we all thought better of it.

Visit the Lafitte National Preserve website to read about the Barataria Trails

See my photos of wildlife in New Orleans

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