Monday, June 17, 2013

The marshes of Shell Beach and Hopedale

A few days ago I drove out to Shell Beach and Hopedale in St. Bernard Parish, stopping along the road, enjoying the marsh birds.

The soundscape of the scrub along the roadside edges out this way is dominated by the rich song of the Orchard Oriole- a bird that we used to have in urban New Orleans a few decades back, but no longer do.  Popular wisdom is that they were driven out by Bronzed Cowbirds, which lay their eggs in other birds' nests- and apparently targeted the orioles.

There are plenty of cowbirds at Shell Beach/Hopedale as well, but the orioles seem to be holding their own.

The marshes are salty enough here to have the classic salt marsh avifauna- Willets flying about calling pill will willet in defense of nesting territories, Seaside Sparrows singing and flying about among the grasses, Clapper Rails calling invisibly, and Red-winged Blackbirds chasing to and fro.  And of course the usual assortment of herons, egrets, ducks, Laughing Gulls, and terns flying about looking for places to feed.   And as seems to usually be the case in this particular spot, on the distant eastern horizon, some frigatebirds up high in the air.

Good birding,


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