Lafayette is a city located along the Vermilion River in southwestern Louisiana. Lafayette is considered the center of Acadiana, the area of Cajun and Creole culture in Louisiana and the United States. It developed following the relocation of Acadians after their expulsion by the British from eastern Canada in the late 18th century following France's defeat in the Seven Years' War. There is also a strong Louisiana Creole influence in the area. Lake Martin is one of Louisiana's largest nesting colonies for many species of water birds. Some of these species include the Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, White Ibis, and Roseate Spoonbill. There is a trail just off of Rookery Road that leads to the best viewing area, however the trail is closed in late May to October because of Alligator nesting. Rookery Road is open year round. Lake Martin, which is only seven miles from Lafayette, is owned by the Nature Conservancy and is open year round and has free admission. From Hwy. 31 between Breaux Bridge and Parks, take a right on Lake Martin Road and follow it to the lake. The winding, mist-laden waters of the Atchafalaya Basin, teeming with its own aquaculture system, have shaped the peoples of this area as well as provided a background for much of the folklore of the area. The basin is the largest river swamp in the country and the ebb and flow of the tidal marshes was adapted into a way of life that included abundant seafood, artistry, music and most of all, a natural barrier to the outside world that allowed a language and culture to flourish in its natural surroundings. A Cajun traveling through the shadows, navigating his way through the narrow waterway on his pirogue is the stuff of legend. Today, a drive down I-10 from, east, takes you right through the heart of cypress knees and swamp tours and beautiful wetlands. Several stops along the way offer a close-up view of the basin including swamp tours for spying alligators or the wealth of migratory birds all along the basin. The Atchafalaya Welcome along I-10 has animatronic displays and more information about the basin, its history and heritage.