Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Movement on the front- Bucktown and UNO

This morning I swung by Bucktown and spent 20 minutes out on the peninsula, starting out at the north end of the artificial marsh.

There were Swamp Sparrows in the marsh, and a Savannah.  I flushed a larger sparrow up from the edge that I suspect was a White-crowned, but it went for cover.

Farther out on the peninsula, a few Savannah Sparrows were out in the short grass.  Two Red-winged Blackbirds flew in from high up- probably newly arrived migrants looking for habitat, given that they don't winter at the site.  Looking from the tip across toward West End revealed fewer terns and gulls than usual, but 28 Brown Pelicans on pylons- about 60% adults.

Walking back on the peninsula, I heard a Song Sparrow calling in the scrub.  A Yellow-rumped Warbler flew in, probably from over the water, and chipped restlessly.  It then took off westward, climbing high in the sky, appearing conflicted as it faced north but drifted west.  This matches a phenomenon we often see in south Louisiana on mornings after a frontal passage in fall- birds trying to head back north into the wind, apparently drifted farther south than they wished.

Shortly thereafter, two birds passed heading east at moderate height- which proved to be American Pipits in the binoculars, uncharacteristically silent in flight (usually they give their frail sipit notes).  These were also covering ground, probably also new arrivals on the front.  While they were passing, an American Goldfinch flew westward, also high, and solo, giving its usual potatochip call.  These were my first of both these species this season.

As I approached the car, I stopped once more to swish, and was rewarded by the dry tek of a Marsh Wren, which soon climbed a weed stalk into view.  I circulated back along the edge where I had spooked the suspected White-crowned, but it had not returned.

At UNO, I noticed a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in an ornamental baldcypress in front of my office building (Milneburg) as I walked in.  It flew into an exotic elm that is riddled with sapsucker diggings from winters past (holes drilled in short horizontal lines).  I could actually see sap glistening in some new holes high in the tree- not something I can recall seeing before.  A chickadee was there; I swished at in, and 4 Pine Warblers, an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a Blue-headed Vireo all materialized from the shade trees.  The vireo does not normally winter on campus, and is probably passing through; the warblers may stay, although they also go through a pulse of elevated numbers in late fall that fades into winter.  A student en route to my 9:30 hurricane meteorology class paused and inquired "anything good?"  I said "Yeah-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker."  He looked surprised that something that exotic sounding would be in front of our building.


for a copy of Birding Made Easy- New Orleans, email me at birding.made.easy.new.orleans@gmail.com, or look for it in area bookstores.

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