Saturday, April 25, 2015

Migrants in Harahan this morning- to my surprise

This morning I walked twenty minutes upstream on the levee of the Great River in Harahan, following my customary route from Elaine to the abandoned Colonial Club property, and back on the same path.  I was not expecting any real showing of passage migrants, since conditions had been good for northward movement last night and in general we get spring migrants stopping over under the opposite conditions- when opposing winds or widespread rain force birds to pause in our area and wait.

The first migrant was a Solitary Sandpiper on the flooded levee lawn, by the Kirby driveway (the only batture industry on this stretch).

Next were two female Indigo Buntings along the batture edge at Doyle, while a Red-eyed Vireo sang in the woods behind them.

Across from Donelon, a Yellow-breasted Chat sang its weird conglomeration of phrases from the dense understory.

Across from O K Street, a singing White-eyed Vireo (judged a migrant because it has not been there previously).

I reached the far edge of the country club, and turned around.  None of the birds detected outbound showed again on the walk back, but others did:

Fifty Double-crested Cormorants crossed overhead northbound at medium height in an almost perfect V - in the act of migrating, I expect.

Moments later, six Lesser Yellowlegs came over low southbound- seemingly new arrivals prospecting habitat.

A female Blue Grosbeak chinked from a weedy edge on the club property.

Then the oddest sighting of the morning:  an Orchard Oriole came past above the tree tops eastbound.  As I watched in my binoculars, it ascending higher and higher for 1-2 minutes, at its peak probably beyond unaided vision.  It wheeled slowly clockwise all the while, making a 3/4 turn, and finally fell back toward earth.  I do not recall seeing this before- was it trying to get an overview of the area, to look for better oriole habitat?

A Prothonotary Warbler had begun singing sweet sweet sweet sweet across from Doyle.

Finally, as I stepped up to my car at Elaine, a male and two (four?) female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks moved between trees in the adjacent yards.  As they did, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird zipped past at canopy level, headed for the batture.

Not a bad migrant tally.

Other notables included the continued singing of the White-eyed Vireo across from Elaine (where it has been doing so since late winter), two Red-bellied Woodpeckers going in and out of a cavity in a snag near Kirby, a drake Wood Duck in a tree (likely nest site) near the same spot, and the presence of white downy hawk-lets in the Red-shouldered nest at Ravan.  Ten Yellow-crowned Night-Herons flying around on the country club  suggested there may be a nesting aggregation somewhere nearby.

Busy walk, in the best way.


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