Sunday, March 30, 2014
Migrants crossing Lake Pontchartrain this morning
In the wake of fallouts reported downriver and at Grand Isle yesterday, I went to South Point this morning to check on a phenomenon I first noticed last spring: migrants crossing the lake the morning after a coastal fallout. My interpretation last spring was that birds were departing the areas on or near the coast where they had fallen out the day before, flying against the northeast winds (which follow cold fronts, the common precipitator of fallouts), continuing their way northward.
There was a cross-lake movement evident this morning. At the base (south end) of the Hwy 11 bridge, I stood from 0740-0755, and estimated:
30 Tree Swallow
1 Cliff Swallow
8 Barn Swallow
20 Purple Martin
15 Chimney Swift
4 unidentified warblers
these were all crossing the lake northward.
I then drove to the gravel frontage road back west to its gate, and walked out the levee to the railroad bridge, where the light is better and context more charming. I spent 45 minutes out there, 830-915, and estimated (all lake crossers):
120 Tree Swallow
24 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (6 flocks)
15 American Goldfinch (all one flock; chickened out and reversed back)
13 Little Blue Herons (flock of adults)
10 Barn Swallow
9 Cowbirds (flock; one was a male Brown-headed)
8 Yellowlegs (flock of 7 Greaters with one Lesser)
7 Eastern Kingbird (five singles or flocks)
6 Chimney Swift
6 Purple Martin
2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (only!)
2 Orchard Oriole (both full adult males)
1 Indigo Bunting (male)
there were also 40 or so other small landbirds (and not swallows or swifts) that I did not identify, crossing,
in addition a Belted Kingfisher flying higher above the ground than usual seemed to want to cross the lake but also aborted.
The greatest highlight was two Swallow-tailed Kites that came through, barely above ground level- from atop the levee, I was looking down at them! They also crossed the lake.
There were other birds around, most notably a Roseate Spoonbill in pale pink plumage- an unusual date for this far inland. Along the road between the gate and levee were a male Blue Grosbeak, a Prothonotary Warbler, and three gnatcatchers. The impounded marsh along the levee had its usual coots, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, egrets, etc., and a Bald Eagle. The tidal marsh along the levee had calling Clapper Rails- three or so.