While visiting New Orleans for the 2016 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, I had an opportunity to take a short morning trip to the Barataria Preserve of the Jean Lafitte National Park. The park is a short 30 minute drive from New Orleans. A series of boardwalk trails through the swamp let visitors get close to the aquatic wildlife.
The first herp of my visit was a northern cricket frog, Acris crepitans. This little frog caught my attention as it was rapidly jumping back and forth between pieces of floating vegetation. This was only the second time I’ve seen these frogs in the wild. Apparently the rapid jumping behavior is a common defense strategy that the cricket frogs use. This frog paused long enough for me to take a few pictures.
Shortly afterwards, I spotted the highlight of my visit: an American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). This was about 9 am, just after I arrived at the preserve.
I also spotted a dozen Anole lizards (Anolis carolinensis) climbing around the vegetation. Here are photos of two of them:
Some birds and invertebrates rounded out the trip.
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron:
Lubber Grasshopper on hat:
Mating Lubber Grasshoppers:
Golden Orb Web Spider: