Sunday, August 06, 2006

Birding Whiskey Bay

It was raining when I left Baton Rouge and rainy when I got to Whiskey Bay. Thought I was foiled, but thankfully it cleared and it was actually cool all morning -- the thermometer on my car didn't get above 80 til after noon.

The buntings were plentiful, but either I didn't see any mature male painted buntings or they've already lost their breeding plumage, because I didn't see any that made me go "wow!" Saw a Yellow Warbler near the tower just past the watering hole...didn't look it up at the time, just made field notes. Headed on down to Happy Town road and saw a young turkey in the road -- later I would see a group of 5 more. Nothing much happening at the bridge -- couple of fisherpeople there who were not having any luck either.

The Miss. Kites were numerous. Largest single group I saw was 5 in one tree. No swallow-tail kites this trip. Cardinals and tanagers were numerous and vocal. Had one Roseate Spoonbill flyover while it was still early. All the other wading birds were found at the campground end, as were the Bluebirds. I did see several hummingbirds throughout the trip, and interestingly enough, saw a couple of pairs that had to be mother/child. Even observed one fledgling begging, altho mom wasn't cooperating. Juveniles of several species were present, and usually very vocal! Other wildlife included a family of rabbits, two live armadillos (which I believe is a personal record) and one spectacular large gray snake (at least 6 feet but not too thick at the middle). The Golden Silk Spider webs were most impressive decorated with the rain drops.

Just before I left, I decided I'd go back and try to video the Yellow Warbler because I thought it might be an early migrant, so I turned around and headed back to the spot, and pulled off the road...right into a well-disguised mud hole. I drive an SUV, but it’s one of those “citified” versions which doesn’t have 4-wheel drive. As it was, the front tires were completely coated with slick gray clay and I was very stuck. Now for those of you who've birded at Whiskey Bay you know that there is usually a never-ending parade of guys with trucks, usually pulling a boat and hauling a** down that road. Well, evidently they all stayed home today. I waited for over an hour for *anyone* to pass by. And then it was some guys in a minivan! But shortly thereafter came the guy in the Big Truck, with the Tool Box, who rigged up a rope and hauled me right out. So, thanks to my Good Samaritans. Lesson learned: stay on the road or the obvious gravel driveways.

Number of species: 52

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Brat Pack

Green Herons are abundant around the LSU lakes this time of year. In May you could find breeding birds in every stage...setting up nests, sitting on eggs, feeding fledglings, and then, like this group, learning to forage on their own. I love this group of "teenagers" with their punk hair, bickering in the cypress trees..