Sunday, July 18, 2010

of Storks and Dirt Pits and Rainbows

Unfortunately, even though Baton Rouge is located prominently on the largest river in North America, which also happens to be the pivotal feature of one of the largest bird migration flyways in North America, there is very little natural habitat left by the river in our immediate area. To man, rivers mean industry and transportation, and Baton Rouge is a prime example of these uses. The river itself produces material for man to use...sand and silt that flow down river are harvested for construction, industry, and agriculture. It would be nice if we had some natural riparian habitat left for resident and migrating birds, but instead they must make do with what we've left them.

Richfield Riversilt is a working dirt pit just south of Baton Rouge, located on a bend in the river. Natural sand and silt deposits make it a prime spot for this use. I don't have a good sense of area, but it's probably a couple hundred acres all tolled. There are no trails, no rest rooms, no amenities of any kind. There is a construction trailer and heavy equipment.

But the owners are "bird friendly" and since the birds use the area despite the heavily disturbed habitat, AND since this spot is close enough to Baton Rouge to dash out on an impromptu field trip, it's a popular place for Baton Rouge birders. With permission, of course, since it is private property.

I went today to see if I could find Wood Storks, and also to check the property for potential later in the summer & fall. On one of our field trips last fall, we had excellent numbers of Storks. I didn't see any storks today, but there was plenty of water and the trees and undergrowth was very overgrown -- excellent weed habitat :-) My best bird of the day was one I couldn't even get a picture of -- a singing male Painted Bunting. Oh, what a bird.

I'll definitely be going back later this year... The rainbow was nice bonus -- one of the perks for birding in the rain.