Saturday, April 19, 2014

This morning at South Point

I visited South Point in the Bayou Sauvage NWR this morning, curious as to whether there would be any cross-lake land bird movement northbound.  I have witnessed it on three other spring occasions now- once a few weeks ago and twice last year, always into north winds such as we had this morning.  My supposition is that the phenomenon in spring involves "fallout" birds that had paused recently in coastal or near-coastal areas south of here, following the urge to head north by moving in daylight instead of waiting for the traditional nocturnal travel window.

There was movement across the lake, but it was light.  Lake-crossers in the 40 minutes I watched included 5 Indigo Buntings, 4 Eastern Kingbirds, 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a Blue Grosbeak, and what appeared to be an Orchard Oriole.  There were swallows crossing as well:  5 Purple Martin,8 Barn, 2 Tree, and a Rough-winged.  Ten Chimney Swifts.

The highlight was Red-headed Woodpeckers- unusual south of Lake Pontchartrain.  Two crossed together, and then a while later two more approached but aborted.  I cannot say with complete confidence that these were different from the first two, because on some occasions birds double back from well out over the water and reappear at the point, seemingly conflicted in their intentions.

As usual, there were a variety of other species to be seen.  Cliff Swallows at the crabbing bridge were coming close, looking me in the eye.  Along the walk between there and the levee Hooded and Tennessee Warblers and a Catbird were all singing in the scrubby edge, a flock of six Blue Grosbeaks were kicking up the road ahead of me, a few Indigo Buntings and a scolding White-eyed Vireo were mixed in, and a couple Ruby-throated Hummers were zipping around.

Oddly, a rail- probably Sora- kicked out of the roadside weeds, and landed five feet up in a honeysuckle tangle!  I approached and it eventually jumped out the far side and made its get away.

The impounded marsh was stalked by coot (still a flock of 15 or so apparent winterers hanging in, plus the scattered pairs of presumed breeders), a scattering of Black-necked Stilts, a few Blue-winged Teal and Mottled Ducks, and the usual herons and egrets.  Several Anhingas circling overhead, and a Prothonotary singing in the tallows.   Sora whinnying.  The tidal marsh attracted a few flyby Solitary Sandpipers and one Greater Yellowlegs.  Clapper Rails and Common Yellowthroats were advertising, as well as a lingering Sedge Wren.

At the base of the Hwy 11 bridge, the small woodlot had a singing Red-eyed Vireo, two Orchard Orioles, a Great Crested Flycatcher, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a singing Marsh Wren in the reeds.


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