Thursday, June 27, 2013
Purple Martin roost- WOW!
This evening I checked out the Purple Martin roost under the southern end of the Causeway bridge.
What a treat! I got there ten minutes before sunset, and there were only a hundred or so milling in the sky overhead. The numbers built gradually, and as it started getting dark shortly after 8 pm, they began swarming to the sides of the bridge.
The construction is finally complete, so you can walk right out next to them- I approached the closest end of the roosting swarm to within about five yards, and they seemed completely oblivious. Birds in the air were passing within a yard of me, but they did not appear to be pooping at all (good thing!).
I also walked under the Causeway and checked the area between the spans, and the east side. The biggest concentration was perching on the west side (~2500), with ~1500 in the middle and ~500 on the west side, for ~4500 total. Unlike my last visit (last summer), none appeared to still be arriving after the light began to fail.
All the birds appear to be in female/immature plumage (ie, they had ashy gray underparts, throats, collars, and foreheads).
To top it all off, I saw the fabled "green flash" of the sun when it set below the surface of Lake Pontchartrain. First time in my life! Lime green, lasted longer than I expected- about a full second.
In Birding Made Easy, I suggest access from North Hullen- now I would recommend accessing on the east side of Causeway from the end of Ridgelake (and areas accessible therefrom). Park, walk the jogging path under the bridge, and walk along the bridge's west side out to the waterfront.
For a copy of Birding Made Easy-New Orleans, email me at Birding.Made.Easy.New.Orleans@gmail.com, or get a copy at Maple Street Book Shop or Garden District Book Shop.