Monday, October 16, 2006

Birding class

I've been taking an Intermediate Birding class through LSU Union Leisure classes. Richard Gibbons is the instructor, although he's brought in guest speakers. The class is focused on birds that are more difficult to ID, like fall warblers, hawks, sparrows, and shorebirds. We've done field trips to the rice fields and a couple to the Miss River levee. Picked up a few lifers along the way, but few pictures or video.

I've also been down to New Orleans to City Park, which is an overgrown jungle right now and not a particularly safe place to be. It's also hard to get around between trees down over trails and a year's worth of growth reclaiming the area.

I participated in the Big Sit on October 9. Justin and Devin Bosler did this last year and again this year in the spring and wanted to continue the effort. Basically, a group stakes out a 17-foot diameter circle somewhere and counts all the birds they can see from that location. The Boslers have chosen a spot at Richfield Riversilt. Last year they could see the river pretty well, but this year the successional growth blocked much of the view. They counted 88 species even so, which is not bad at all, and only 3 shy of their list last year. They started at about 4:15am and lasted until 7:30 pm. I arrived at 8:30 or so and stayed til 7:00pm. There were only 4 people and another half dozen would have really helped to be able to scout around the area and point things out to the circle sitters.

A common migrant for us right now is the Magnolia Warbler. It looks a lot like other warblers, but is easily distinguished by the underside of the tail, which has white undertail coverts, with large black tips -- making the tail look half white, half black. A feature easily seen in this video. I can see how this could be confused for a Yellow-rumped Warbler because it also has a yellow rump patch, but the underside of the tail clinches it.

Magnolia Warbler