Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sightings June 29 evening stroll in Jefferson batture

I just returned from an evening stroll in the Jefferson batture.  The river has receded almost all the way back into its banks, but standing water is still trapped within the batture, extending out from the wood margin across the lawn toward the levee base, filled with emerging herbaceous growth.  

An adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron stared patiently at the muck, and was rewarded with a crawfish.  Another, fifty yards down the levee, caught another mud bug.  Both maneuvered them around in their beaks longer than they probably needed to merely for the sake of getting them into position before swallowing- removing appendages?

A Great Egret was a few feet from one of them, standing in its characteristic posture with neck stretched diagonally upward, and beak continuing the trajectory upward at the same angle.  It was an adult, with aigrette plumes still visible.  It stood stock still, and then, to my surprise, began to sway its neck side to side, for about 45 seconds.  Each motion (back to starting point) took about a second, and spanned about two inches.  The head kept fixed in space while this happened.  I have never seen this before- seems it must be a foraging behavior, perhaps a prey deception of some sort.

The woods were almost silent of birds, just a few singing Cardinals.  The cacophonous cicadas, frogs, and toads filled the void quite well.  On the river bank by the pumping station, about fifteen tiny frogs (half inch?) kicked up in front of my feet, making prodigious jumps many times their body length.

Five Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were also in the levee swale, two pairs and a single.  As I was preparing to leave, a hen Wood Duck came barreling out of the batture and looked me in the eye as she flew past headed upstream.  Perhaps a local nester.

So nice to have nature in the city.


for a copy of Birding Made Easy- New Orleans, email me at, or look for it at the Maple Street Book Shop or Garden District Book Shop.

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