Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Champagne Swamp Tour

Gliding down the bayou to the swamp.
An anhinga dries its feathers.
A turtle sunning itself.

A great blue heron takes flight.

A slab side crappie.

Duck blind with decoys

The one that got away.

Bryan Champagne

We went with two other couples from the RV park, Gary & Anita and Jim & Cookie on a Cajun swamp tour lead by a real authentic Louisiana Cajun, Bryan Champagne. Bryan has a 24 foot flat bottom boat that he can run in very shallow water so you can get up close and personal with ALL the creatures of the swamp. He told how the early Cajuns made a living hunting, trapping, fishing, and lumbering in the swamp. He showed us his duck blind with the decoys out in anticipation of the hunting season that opens this Saturday. His friends were using the blind to fish for crappies and they had a cooler full of fish that would have all been trophies in Pennsylvania. We saw hundreds of birds including egrets, herons, ducks, anhingas, cormorants, bald eagle, osprey and many others. This swamp is the largest nesting areas for wading birds in Louisiana and while part of the swamp is closed to tours when the birds are nesting, you can still see them from the boat. He explained how the cypress trees were harvested in the old days by cutting a circle around them so they would die and be light enough to float out. One of the cypress trees is believed to be over 500 years old. We even got up close but not to personal with an alligator that was near enough Bryan was able to grab it by the tail. We were all glad he was not able to hang on. He even explained the difference between a bayou and a swamp but you will have to take the tour to find out for yourself. We have been on several eco-tours and this was one of the best. You could tell Bryan not only loves showing people how the Cajuns live, but he loves being in the swamp and is very knowledgeable about its every aspect. We had a great time and highly recommend this tour which is only a few miles off I-10.

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