Saturday, January 31, 2015
Report from Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle interpretive overlook in Lower Ninth Ward
Today around 10 AM I scanned the wetlands visible from the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle interpretive overlook in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. This relatively new birding spot is at the north end of Caffin Street. Interpretive signage there describes the problem of coastal land loss, including the coversion of this site from bald cypress swamp in the 1930's to open water with "ghost" cypress snags and stumps today.
Hundreds of waterbirds were spread across the wetland. Some were fairly close in, but the bulk required scoping. I was surprised and delighted to see a raft of 465 Bonaparte's Gulls sitting on the water. I have not seen a flock of this species approaching this size in our area before. They were by far the most numerous gull at the site, although there were a handful each of the more normal species (Ring-billed, Laughing, and Herring).
It was also nice to see 80 or so loafing American White Pelicans. Two Brown Pelicans were present, and thirty or so Double-crested Cormorants were teed up on snags. Four Anhingas were perched along the distant tree line.
Ducks were dominated by 130 Lesser Scaup, 80 Gadwall, and 70 Northern Shovelers. Mixed among them were six Ruddy Ducks, two Ring-necked Ducks, a single hen Bufflehead, and a lone female Hooded Merganser. Eight Pied-billed Grebes and a few score American Coots rounded out the tally of swimming birds, although an additional hundred or so ducks were present but so distant and back-lit that I declined to wrestle with them.
A shrieking Osprey landed atop a cypress snag. Single Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks stuck to the edge.
This is an out of the way spot seldom visited by birders; it should probably be on our agenda more often! I also worked the overgrown (former) residential areas of the Lower Ninth; look for that report in a subsequent post.