I spent a few hours in Honey Island Swamp today with some visiting birders. The weather was beautiful, and the foliage is still early enough along that we could see a good distance back into the swamp from the elevated closed highway (Old Hwy 11) that traverses the area within the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area.
As usual for this habitat, a highlight was the volume and variety of bird song- led by Carolina Wrens, Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, White-eyed Vireos, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers in approximate descending abundance.
There were striking numbers of Red-headed Woodpeckers- a species of relatively open woodlands that has essentially colonized the Pearl since its canopy was opened by Hurricane Katrina. They seemed to be nearly everywhere we stopped, chasing each other about, tee-ing up on snags, and inspecting holes.
A number of tropical migrants have returned. Northern Parulas were all over the place, with several nicely plumaged males low enough to offer good views, and many others belting their buzzy songs from the still essentially leafless canopy. A few Prothonotary Warblers were also around, with one male showing off his golden plumage at close range. Two pairs of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were at bridge number 7; one pair was erecting their crown and back plumes in display.
There were healthy numbers of wintering species still present, with Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet still around. A couple Blue-headed Vireos were singing, and a flock of White-throated Sparrows haunted the understory.