Saturday, April 18, 2015

Grand Isle today: migrants galore!

I drove down today to take part in the annual Grand Isle Migratory Bird Festival.  Although the morning was rainy, the afternoon did not disappoint: there were loads of migrant songbirds everywhere.  In most of the Landry-Leblanc tract of The Nature Conservancy's Lafitte Woods Preserve, a shady maritime live oak forest, there were so many birds it seemed every six paces we would kick another bunch out of the foliage, and that at any moment we had to pick between a half dozen we might want to look at.

The migrants were dominated by throngs of Gray Catbirds, Wood Thrushes, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings.  In one spot 100+ migrants zipped across the track in front of us in response to the approach of another birder through the woods.   In that same area, two dozen or so Green Herons, new arrivals resting after crossing the Gulf, jumped from the scrub as we moved through.  Lots of other species were around, including a variety of warblers:  I saw a dozen warbler species myself, and the total list of by festival participants topped 20.

These sorts of "fallouts" are weather dependent, occurring most often when inclement conditions (such as today's rain) makes the birds' trans-Gulf crossing strenuous, causing them to make first available landfall.  There did not appear to be any exodus on the radar tonight, so there will probably still be lots of migrants in the Grand Isle woods tomorrow.


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