Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ducks in Louisiana

I was hoping to switch gears off my Louisiana trip with a more local flair from a day of birding on Saturday, but alas I had a really bad birding day.  I left my house at 6AM for an hour or so drive to the Parker River NWR on Plum Island on the north shore of Massachusetts.  There were an assorted number of ducks and other species, but photography wasn't great and everyone I met along the way felt the same.  From there I visited the coast through Gloucester, Rockport and Cape May.  Just wasn't my day to bird.   I hope it was just an off day and it isn't that I was completely spoiled in Louisiana. 

Anyway today I'm reverting back to my gazillions of photos from Louisiana to share some ducks.  Although they were very skittish, I was able to a few good shots. I suspect their skittish behavior was due to the many hunters down south.  I'm not a hunter, but I have several friends that do.  Seems like everyone in the south does.  I don't mind as long as it is properly managed.  Duck hunters pump a great deal of money into conservation through the purchase of duck stamps.  Ducks Unlimited also supports conservation and protection of open space so hopefully the abundance of ducks will remain.

I was fortunate to get a very large variety.    My first stop was at the Audubon Zoo as I was told there is often alot of freeloaders and I wasn't disappointed.  Beside the resident ducks, there had to be 500 Black bellied whistling ducks, falvous whistling ducks, and many others.  Great for ducks!!!!!  See below

Black bellied Whistling Duck

 Fulvous Whistling Duck

Female Hooded Merganser

Wood Duck (woodies were all over the place) Luv'em!!!

I also visited Laccisine NWR in south central LA.  There was a huge abundance of everything present at Laccasine.  

Blue winged Teal

Female Blue Winged Teal

Green and Blue Winged Teal

Lesser Scaup

Female Northern Shoveler

Ring-necked (sweet!)

I've got some time off this week so hopefully I'll have a post of local birds.  I'm sure you don't care where they come from, but I need a fix bad.  :)  Hope you enjoy! 


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Perching Birds of Louisiana

Still sorting through 1400 pictures from my Louisiana trip.  I'll get several more posts out of it. 

My first post should have been my itinerary for the trip.  I visited many excellent locations from Mississippi to Texas.  I started on Saturday after landing at the airport at the Audubon Zoo looking for wintering ducks.   Spent a bit of time in City Park and then spent Sunday in Fontainbleu State Park in Mandeville along the northern edge of Lake Pontratrain.  Sunday I visited East New Orleans.  I was shocked at the condition of this part of the city.  Buildings and neighborhoods that still remain as they did immediately after Hurricane Katrina.  I refrained from taking pictures.  They've gone through enough down there to have more picturessplashed across the Internet.  Suffice it to say, lots more needs to be done down there to remove abandoned buildings.  Here's only one example and then I'll share my bird photos.
There are entire 12 to 15 story office buildings abandoned and blocks of residential houses no longer occupied.  Not sure what to think! 

I had great luck spotting perching birds at Fontainbleu State Park.  Several warblers, flycatchers, bluebirds were everywhere, and Loggerhead Shrike, a lifer for me. 

Nashville Warbler

Palm Warbler

Pine Warbler (outstanding color)

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird

Loggerhead Shrike

Blue gray natcatcher

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Carolina Wren (I have two more wrens.  Just trying to ID species)

Common Yellow Throat (such an enjoyable bird to watch)

Stay tuned for more posts shortly.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Raptors of Louisiana

Today I'm posting an array of raptors that I encountered on my trip across Louisiana. I was amazed that there were so many. No exaggeration a hawk on a telephone pole every 1/4 mile. Thankfully there was little traffic on route so I could, if the spirit moved me, pull the car off for a quick photo.  I'm really happy about the Sharpie as I have not been able to photograph one previously.  I now have a much clearer view on the differences between a Cooper's and a Sharpie.  I watched a North Harrier take a black water snake right in front of me.  I froze because it happened so fast and didn't get the picture.  I luv this birding game.  Enjoy, I did!

Red-tailed Hawk

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

American Kestrel

Bald Eagle

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rails in Louisiana

While on a business trip to Louisiana I had the opportunity to do alittle birding.  I had great success.  Likely added 10 new species to my life list.  I'll group the photos over the next couple weeks with similar species.  I spent alot of time in the marshes surrounding Lake Pontratrain.  If you weren't aware LP is huge.  I drove across the lake on the causeway for 31 miles.  In the middle you can't see land...yikes.  There were ducks along the entire route.  Mostly Ring Necks, but I couldn't look too closely since the road was only two lanes wide and rather deep over the edge.  Today I'm posting Rails...I believe, although it is up for debate, that I was able to photograph three species of rails (and a Sora).  The Clapper, King, and the Virginia are very close in appearance, but each have subtle differences.  The Gulf Coast Clapper Rail has distinct differences from its Atlantic Cousin.  Clapper also prefer brackish while the King prefers fresh water.   Take a look and see what you think.  I know they all aren't the greatest pictures, these birds are characteristically elusive so I feel fortunate to even see a feather. 

Clapper Rail (much more buff then the King below)  Grand Isle, Louisiana

King Rail  (slightly larger and much more reddish) Fontainbleu State Park, Mandeville, Louisiana

Virginia Rail (slightly smaller then the Clapper) 
Fontainbleu State Park, Mandeville, Louisiana

Sora (seemed very territorial-lots of inter-species playground fightin!) 
I guess all that chatter was "fightin words"!
Bayou Savage-middle of nowhere Louisiana