Friday, November 14, 2014

Recent weird records from around the state

The last few weeks have produced an interesting array of strange bird records from around the state.

Top of the list is a Lucy's Warbler, which has been seen periodically on a Nature Conservancy property at Grand Isle after being found by LSU professor Van Remsen while he was showing the island off to a visiting birder from the Northeast.  Now that northeasterner has a bird on his state list that is the envy of many Louisianans.  Lucy's Warbler is from the desert southwest, and has occurred in the state before, but not in recent decades.

About a week ago, another LSU ornithologist, Steve Cardiff, was in the rice country of southwest Louisiana at evening dusk, checking out geese.  A group of four specklebellies (Greater White-fronted Geese) was trailing a fifth, odd bird- which on inspection proved to be a Brown Booby, a tropical seabird that normally remains beyond sight of land and is quite rare in Gulf waters anyway.   A few have surprised people by turning up in recent years on inland water bodies- Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Calcasieu- but to pick out one flying past overland is mind boggling.

Finally, it appears that a Vaux's Swift- a bird of the western USA that winters in the tropics- is again frequenting the downtown lakes in Baton Rouge.  This species has a truly strange history in our capital city- they have inexplicably been turning up periodically there in winter for decades, longer than the life span of a swift, often multiple individuals at once.  The species is essentially unknown anywhere else in the eastern USA at any season.  Why?  And why Baton Rouge?


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