Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Seasonal milestone: first Mourning Dove calling

A few moments ago I went outside to let my dogs into the yard, and sat for a moment on the steps.  The first sound I noticed was the soft coo coo-ooo, cooo cooo cooo of a Mourning Dove, their breeding season advertisement.  The first I have heard for the upcoming nesting cycle.

Okay, so I suppose it is after the solstice, and by that standard we are sliding ever so slightly toward spring astronomically.  But the bald cypress are still not bald- indeed they remain in peak foliage coloration- and the sharpest bite of winter temperatures (however blunt it may be at our latitude) is still ahead of us.  

Every December it strikes me funny when I see the first signs that my local yard birds are beginning to think in terms of nesting, when I am still thinking "ahead" to winter.  


Friday, December 16, 2016

The DDT Survivor's Club

During the past week I was treated to almost daily observations of some terrific species while running errands in the city, all species that we almost lost in the 1960s due to the widespread use of the pesticide DDT.

Tuesday-  While sitting at the stoplight waiting to exit Ochsner Hospital onto River Rd, I was afforded a great look at an adult Bald Eagle flying rather low downstream along the Mississippi River levee.  After a few moments it turned to cross the river, and flew beneath a Brown Pelican that was circling high above.

Wednesday morning- Driving the River Road on the West Bank side, I was surprised to see two Bald Eagles perched cozily together on the top of a light pole atop the levee.  They were smack on the Westwego-Harvey town line.  One was adult, the other still had lots of dusky on its white head- a three year old bird, I would guess.

Wednesday afternoon- an Osprey was hovering vigorously over the drainage canal at Earhardt and David in Metairie.

Wednesday- Preparing to turn onto David Drive from Veterans in Kenner near dusk, the traffic light gave me just enough time to grab my binocs and focus in on a Peregrine Falcon that was sitting on the guy wires beneath the Jefferson Parish water tower.

Thursday-  another adult Bald Eagle on the West Bank, this time atop a tall utility pole on Lapalco, near its terminus at Hwy 90 in Avondale.

When I was growing up and learning to bird in western Massachusetts, Peregrines were in the depth of their pesticide woes.  They had almost legendary status; every sighting afforded bragging rights, and most years I had none.  Bald Eagles were so scarce there was only one place in the state (Quabbin Reservoir) where they occurred regularly, and trips out to see them (scoped at a great distance) were an event.   At their low point in southeast Louisiana, the one remaining eagle pair at White Kitchen was (I am told) regarded quite special as well.   In the 1970s I wrote a letter to the author of Birds of Nova Scotia after a family trip to the Maritimes, to report some Osprey sightings- his species account had so emphasized their demise that their whereabouts seemed worth reporting.

When I arrived in New Orleans in 1991. Brown Pelicans had not yet resumed wintering on Lake Pontchartrain.  Hard to imagine today, when one can see scores- or more- in a casual visit!

How great to have all four species around.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Waterbird bonanza at Bayou Sauvage (video)

There has been a tremendous concentration of waterbirds this fall at a particular impoundment of the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.  It takes about a half hour to walk to a vantage point.

Across Chef Hwy from the kiosks/restrooms at the western refuge boundary (at the Snowy Egret sign) is a gated road (Recovery Rd) that heads south, tracking just inside the refuge boundary.  About a half hour walk in, past the dilapidated shed, a levee on the left can be climbed for a view of the spectacle.

Great waterbird concentrations are to be expected at this spot whenever there is a prolonged dry spell, so that lots of shoreline mud gets exposed for sandpipers and the open water becomes shallow enough for larger waders and dabbling ducks.  I am not sure how much rain it has received this weekend, and what effect that will have, but I expect it to remain good.

This video, taken by LSU professor Van Remsen, gives a feel for the enormity of it:




Thursday, November 17, 2016

Peregrine on another Jefferson water tower

This afternoon I spotted a suspicious silhouette perched on the large water tower in Old Jefferson, and took a quick U-turn to come back and check it out.  Sure enough, a Peregrine.

This is the first time I have seen one there.  The only raptor I have seen perch there before- and I have checked a lot- was a Kestrel, about a month ago.  It makes the third urban Jefferson Parish water tower on which I have seen a Peregrine.  Yay!  This tower is adjacent to Riverdale High School.  The bird was about half way up, on one of the major horizontal beams.

As an aside, I also saw two Bald Eagles flying about in the vicinity of the West Bank Expressway-Hwy 90 interchange in Avondale this morning.  A nice diversion amidst the gridlock of rush hour!  Perhaps a new nest location is in the works...


Monday, October 31, 2016

Peregrine under the water tower at David x Vets

Around 5:20 this afternoon, I was taking one of my kids (in Halloween regalia) to his friend's house in Metairie. As I pulled up to the end of the cue of cars lined up northbound on David Drive waiting for the light at Veterans Memorial Blvd,  I leaned forward to look up and inspect the wires on the water tower that loomed above.  I was looking for a perched Peregrine, as is my habit at pretty much every water tower in the area that I find myself close to.  This particular tower has only yielded the Lord of the Skies for me once before, a few years back.

Today made it number two!  It was an adult, sitting on the highest wire beneath the tank, tight in against one of the tower's "legs." The red light gave me a moment to pull my "emergency" binoculars from my glove box and have a look.  It was facing north, showing its blue-gray back- indicating an adult.

I cruised by Lakeside Mall on I-10 immediately after, hoping for a bird at that (more often used) tower, but it was empty.  That's okay, one is enough to get me pumped!


Friday, October 14, 2016

Peregrine Falcon returns to Jefferson water tower

Yesterday evening a brief stop in traffic on the Causeway overpass over I 10 gave me just enough time to grab binoculars from my glove box, and train them on the small silhouette perched high on the Jefferson water tower. Sure enough, it was a Peregrine, using this familiar haunt for the species during our "winter" months. Good to see it in use again!

Friday, September 2, 2016

1000+ kingbirds crossing Lake Pontchartrain at South Point

Yesterday I made a quick foray out to South Point in New Orleans East, where the railroad bridge leaves the South Shore headed for Slidell.  This is a great spot for witnessing morning flights of migratory birds.    

I was hoping for a good Eastern Kingbird flight, since that species often stages major movements at this site when we get mornings of northeast winds in early September.  Getting those conditions at this time of year requires some luck, since the cold fronts that produce northerly winds are hard to come by until later in the fall.  However, Tropical Storm Hermine was moving through the eastern Gulf and her cyclonic circulation provided a gentle northeasterly breeze.  Skies were sunny this far from the storm, although a broad bank of clouds off to the east and southeast studded by cumulonimbus tops seemed like it might be a distant view of Hermine's closest edge.

I pulled over at  the base of Highway 11 bridge for brief look, which will usually give an indication of whether a flight is in progress.  Sure enough, within a few minutes, a Blue Grosbeak, a scattering of warblers, and a flock of 80 kingbirds passed overhead and out over the water shadowing  the bridges.  I then headed for the Point, where the flow volume is often greater than at the bridge- though the differences between the two sites are something I am still working out.

On the mile or so hike up to the point, a handful of migrants crossed overhead headed out over the water toward Slidell- including a few Purple Martins.  This species is commonly part of early September movements at South Pt, even after they have departed the New Orleans region otherwise.  I had not seen one elsewhere for weeks.

At the point, a more or less continuous movement was ongoing, with scattered small flocks of warbler-sized songbirds punctuated by larger groups of kingbirds, often 50+.  I took a ten minute count starting at 8:40, and tallied 232 heading out over the water for Slidell, about 70% kingbirds.  For the next ten minutes I just enjoyed the show.  I capped it with another ten minute count at 9:00:  252 birds, again mostly kingbirds.  These indicated a passage rate of about 1450 per hour, about 1000 of them kingbirds.  Since the peak is usually in the first two hours or so after sunrise, and I arrived after that, it may have been stronger earlier.

As usual for this time of year, the second most common participant was Yellow Warbler, but I also was able to pick out a Blackburnian Warbler, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Orchard Oriole, Red-eyed Vireo, Waterthrush sp, American Redstart, Summer Tanager, and Great Crested Flycatcher.  I suppose I could have worked harder at identifying more species, but I am always torn between trying to make identifications and merely putting the binocs down and soaking in the phenomenon.

I then headed back to the Highway 11 bridge, where I had arranged to meet five zoology students from University of Holy Cross, my new academic home.  We counted another 450 birds crossing there in 45 minutes (10:00-10:45), in this case about 90% kingbirds.  

Good stuff!


Friday, August 26, 2016

Say goodbye to the Mississippi Kites

The time has come for the annual exodus of the Mississippi Kites- one of the most abrupt and conspicuous changes in our avifauna each year.  They change from being numerous to essentially absent in the course of the last week of August each year.

Yesterday I saw five during my normal running of errands around the metro area, and today four so far- including two from my yard.  Pretty much in line with how numerous they have been all summer. But that will change in a matter of days, and skies will be kite-less until April.    

A side note- this afternoon I saw four Black Vultures circling over the batture by Ochsner Hospital in Old Jefferson.  This is the only place I have seen them regularly on the East Bank of Jefferson Parish, and it is good to know they are still using the spot (it had been several months since I last saw them there). For reasons unclear to me, Turkey Vultures penetrate New Orleans' urban developed zone much more frequently and deeply than do Blacks- making any East Jeff sightings noteworthy.  Turkey Vultures were themselves much less regular in NOLA's urban landscape prior to Katrina, and have increased since for unknown reasons.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Fallout shorebirds from the tropical disturbance

The winds from the tropical disturbance that has been affecting us the last few days may not have been strong enough to push many birds around, but the rains of such a system often produce a different sort of birding opportunity: water birds that would normally migrate past without pausing are often induced to stop over until the weather passes.
This afternoon, while waiting in the carpool line at Patrick Taylor Academy in Avondale, I noticed some movement in the flooded grassy fields behind the building. Yanking the binoculars out of my glove box-where I keep a pair for such emergencies- I was able to pick out a half dozen Pectoral Sandpipers, a Black-bellied Plover, and a couple Lesser Yellowlegs! These were passage migrants; they were accompanied by four Black-necked Stilts, as many Killdeer, and a small flock of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, all most likely local residents attracted by the rain pools. Never before have I been eager for the carpool line to move as slowly as possible!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Yellow Warblers- a key August migrant

Well, it may not seem like fall migration should be underway, since we are essentially in the hottest partof summer.True, most.of migration is still ahead of us- but for a few species, things get rolling earlier.  This is true for many shorebirds especially, but also for some other species, including some small land birds.

In our area, the Yellow Warbler is probably the most conspicuous song bird migrating this time of year.   Because the species often actively migrates in the early morning, and frequently calls while doing so, it is often possible to pick one out by its vocalizations, and with a quick look up, see it passing overhead.  Their flight note is a somewhat husky seet- not a sound that is likely to grab your attention, but one that you can notice if you stay aware.

Once in a while, you might get treated to a bunch of Yellows passing over the same spot in a short period.  Once such flight was reported by an observer in Marrero this morning- who reported 26 in an hour over his yard.  They were headed west for the most part, which is generally the most common direction for August Yellows in our area.  I have on two occasions over the years counted numbers around 100 in an hour, once on the Bucktown lakefront, and once in Old Jefferson.  Both times, most were headed west.  At the migratory concentration site on the lakeshore at South Point, when (infrequent in August) northeast winds occur, over a 1000 are possible.  Flights have been noted on the north shore of the lake as well, such as at Fontainbleau State Park, but their frequency and magnitude in St. Tammany have yet to be worked out.



Saturday, July 23, 2016

Report on Pontchartrain Park ibis/heron rookery

Yesterday I swung by the mixed heronoid rookery in Pontchartrain Park (aka Bartholomew golf course), which is on an island in a lake on the golf course.

The joint was jumping, as is typical this time of year.  Numbers seemed similar to past years, dominated by White Ibis, which had lots of small young in their nests.  They were followed in decreasing abundance by Black-crowned Night-Herons and Cattle Egrets (roughly tied), and smaller numbers of Tricolored and Little Blue Herons and Snowy Egrets.  Although one Great Egret was hanging around, none were evident nesti

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Status of Least Tern colony on Levitz roof in Elmwood

This morning I spent a half hour watching the Least Tern colony on the rooftop of the Levitz warehouse in Elmwood.  I scoped it from the top of a nearby building.

The peak number of sitting terns (bellies on the surface- not standing) was 15.  I figure such posture to be a reasonable indication that the birds were on active nests.  Based on my experience with the UNO colony, the actual number of active nests would be a bit higher, since some are usually not being incubated/brooded at any given moment.  So, maybe 20-25?  There were ten or so other adults hanging around on the gravel roof surface and the structures that adorn it.  One such pair appeared to be in a courtship display.

I have seen little evidence of successful fledging of young at this colony in the past, but did see one medium sized downy chick this morning.  I picked a time of day when shadows of the various rooftop structures would be angling toward me, so that chicks clinging to the shade (as they tend to do) would have been relatively visible (i.e., would be on the sides of the roof structures that were facing toward me).  Nevertheless, olthers may have been out of view.

There were also four Killdeer on the roof, two of which appeared to be incubating.  

Least Tern is the most widespread rooftop-nesting seabird in New Orleans, but Gull-billed Terns and Black Skimmers also do so regularly.  Killdeer and Common Nighthawks also nest in this habitat.  I suspect the largest colony of Gull-billed Terns is one that sits on a warehouse Uptown off the end of State Street - in a poor location for viewing.  I have not actually visited it this year (yet), but have seen commuting terns following trajectories that appear to head them to and from it. 


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Surprised by a Broadwing

Today I was taking an evening stroll down my street in Old Jefferson after the rain, and heard two Blue Jays jeering at something.  To my surprise, they were fussing at an adult Broad-winged Hawk!  It flew over my head and across the street, jays in hot pursuit. 

On May 2, I had seen a pair of Broad-wings circling over my block, and had wondered if they might be contemplating a nesting attempt.   After weeks had passed with no additional sightings, I had written them off.    With today's sighting, hope is revived- a local nesting seems very likely.

Broad-winged Hawk is a very scarce nester south of Lake Pontchartrain, though not uncommon on the North Shore. 

Together with the three "expected" nesting diurnal raptors of residential New Orleans (Mississippi Kite, and Red-shouldered and Cooper's Hawks), this makes four summering raptors in my 'hood. 



Sunday, June 12, 2016

Goofy Barred Owls at Jean Lafitte

After my last post about awkward young Night-Herons, this morning I ran into another couple of young birds acting their age.  Near the start of the Coquille Trail in Jean Lafitte National Park, I came across a pair of young Barred Owls acting absurdly tame.  The pic below was snapped with my cell phone at about 3-4 feet distance.  Had I thought of it, I would have taken a selfie of the bird with myself in the foreground- ah well, missed opportunity!  There was a Barred Owl acting much like this one about this time last year, at the same spot on the trail- looks like two successful years of nesting for the owls on that territory!

Barred Owls are common in Jean Lafitte and in other swamp forests outside the city, and can often be heard hollering in the middle of the day. Their most common cadence is usually rendered who cooks for you, who cooks for you all, but it is also common to merely hear one shout who-aw!  


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Seasonal milestone: Yellow-crowned Night-Herons out of the nest

Yesterday, while making my rounds monitoring bird populations in Jean Lafitte National Park in Barataria, I came across newly fledged Yellow-crowned Night-Herons.  Four in three places, looking awkward, as newly fledged birds are want to do.

Juveniles of this species are similar to adults in size and structure, but are grayish all over, and lack the distinctive clown-face of their parents.  Because the species also nests right here in the residential 'hoods of the city, it is about time for homeowners with large oak trees to start stumbling across young herons in their yards.  And we can expect to see them alongside the adults in the drainage ditches and batture swales that the latter have been frequenting since their return to our area in March.

Good birding!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Morning is the best time for birding...or is it? Thoughts from Couturie.

Yesterday I was treated to a nice show of migrants in a one-hour visit to the Couturie Forest in City Park:
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo
4 Eastern Kingbird
1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
10 Red-eyed Vireo
7 Yellow-throated Vireo
2 Wood Thrush
1 Veery
1 Gray-cheeked Thrush (doubtfully a Swainson's)
1 Gray Catbird
1 Black-and White Warbler
1 Yellow Warbler
2 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Magnolia Warbler
7 Scarlet Tanager
8 Summer Tanager
1 Orchard Oriole
2 Blue Grosbeak
12 Indigo Bunting
3 Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Would it surprise you to know that such a nice list was tallied from 5-6 pm?  Isn't that a less than ideal time for birding?

The answer is that, yes, morning is best for birding- usually.  But one of the exceptions is that of spring migration on and near the Gulf Coast.  The reason is that migrating birds coming across the Gulf of Mexico usually cannot reach our area until the afternoon, so that there is often an influx late in the day- sometimes making afternoon better than morning.

After a good afternoon arrival event, if there is inclement weather (head winds, rain) that persists after sunset, the arrivals generally stick around in good numbers- in which case the following morning can also be really good.  It might be even better, given that the weather may clear in the interim and provide better viewing conditions, and the birds may also become more visible due to their usual morning up-tick in activity.  But if the nocturnal weather is fair and a southerly tail-wind prevails, afternoon arrivals are likely to be gone the next morning.

Were most of the birds on my list afternoon arrivals?  Without having been there earlier the same day to provide a comparison, it is hard to know.  But the spring phenomenon of afternoon arrivals is well worth factoring into decisions about when to go birding!


Friday, April 22, 2016

Shorebird numbers building under the Earhardt

The storm water retention ponds at the intersection of Causeway x Earhardt (accessible via Shrewsbury from Airline, by going beneath Earhardt) are now attracting a good number of shorebirds, providing better opportunity to view such species than is usually available within the urban core of our city.    A ten minute visit on Wednesday turned up:
118 Least Sandpiper
1 Western/Semipalmated Sandpiper
14 Lesser Yellowlegs
12 Black-necked Stilt
11 Solitary Sandpiper
2-3 Stilt Sandpiper
2 Killdeer
1 Semipalmated Plover
Ten Blue-winged Teal had joined the shorebirds.
This site floods after major rain events, and most of the shorebirds seem to disappear- but mudflats and birds are often back within a few days.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Lots of migrants around- and a good night to watch for them leaving on radar

Judging from reports from City Park, and my own incidental observations around town, there are a lot of passage migrants hanging around the city now- presumably forced to stop over for a few days due to the rain impeding their progress.  In my back yard late this AM, I was treated simultaneously to the chatter of an Orchard Oriole, the lazy phrases of a Red-eyed Vireo, and the spunky chip weebee weedoo chip of a White-eyed Vireo.  Two Blue-winged Teal have been hanging in the flooded roadside ditch by my kids' school, where there were also a couple Solitary Sandpipers yesterday.  Lots of Barn Swallows zipping around lawns here and there, too many to be just the local breeders.

Since the rain has now abated, and winds are easterly and thus no longer oppose northward movement, it is likely that lots of  migrants will depart shortly after sundown.  If so, they are likely to be visible on radar (rap.ucar.edu is a good site for viewing such departures), or audible as flight notes in the sky overhead immediately after dark.  Sometimes a pulse of flight calls overhead seems to happen in spring around 9 pm as well, which I presume is the overhead passage of the concentration of migrants originating on the immediate Gulf Coast.

Migration is so cool!


Update next day:

The exodus was not as large as I anticipated- perhaps the migrants could detect the rain bands north of the lake at sunset, and chose not to take flight.  However, some departure still appears evident on the images below- see how the dark blue blob (apparent departing birds) starts south of the Lake at 9 pm and is gone (actually gradually shifting northward across the lake to merge with/replace the echoes there) three hours later.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Seasonal milestone: first Mockingbird fledgling

This morning I stepped out the front door and immediately noticed a sound that had been absent since last August:  the shrill seeeee note of a recently fledged Northern Mockingbird.  Each spring, when I first hear this note, it takes be aback- always seeming to be to early in the season for young to be out of the nest.  But, just like before, when I count backward, the 3-4 weeks of nest occupancy (egg and nestling phases) of the species would put the egg laying in early March- certainly within the normal range for Mockingbirds in our region.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Burst of firsts: spring arrivals in Old Jefferson

Yesterday I stepped out my front door at sunrise, and was greeted by three Chimney Swifts coursing over the neighborhood. An hour later, as I drove a nearby section of River Road, an Eastern Kingbird flew from the levee and alighted on a the roadside wire. Shortly thereafter, I was treated to the boisterous song of an Orchard Oriole in the mulberry behind my house. Three new arrivals for my spring list, fresh from the tropics, in a few hours. The fun continued this morning, with a Great Crested Flycatcher calling "reap" from down the street.
Gotta love the spring!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Migration is gearing up!

The first migratory species to return to the state this year was the Purple Martin.  As usual, it was reported back at the tail end of January- this year in Baton Rouge- after which a month or so passed before the next species returned.

The first sightings of at least five others have now been reported in Greater New Orleans: Swallow-tailed Kite, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Northern Rough-winged and Barn Swallows.  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron as been reported in the southwestern corner of the state, so is probably not far behind... 


Monday, February 22, 2016

Tricks of the Trade # 6: picking out a singing Thrasher among the Mockingbirds

The Brown Thrasher resides all year in southern Louisiana, and is generally common, but is peculiarly scarce in the nesting season south of Lake Pontchartrain.  I typically find them in only 1-2 locations each spring-summer.

Thus have I been delighted over the past few weeks to have one singing in my neighborhood in Old Jefferson, apparently intent upon attracting a mate.  I first detected this bird three weeks ago in my back yard, scrounging for food on the ground along a shrubby edge.  A few days later it reappeared across the street, singing heartily from the top of a large live oak.  Thrashers have not nested on my block for a decade or more, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Because Brown Thrashers sound very much like Mockingbirds, they are easy to overlook amid the vociferous throngs of the latter species.  It is worth listening for a mocker that sounds slightly hoarse, and employs mainly singlets and doublets.  Mockingbirds are more repetitive- repeating more of their phrases three or more times than do thrashers- and have a cleaner, more liquid voice.  Mockers are also more likely to sing from a man-made structure such as an antenna or telephone pole, while thrashers prefer tall trees.

Keep your ears open!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Barred Owls dueting in the batture

I have long regarded Barred Owl as an irregular winter visitor in the Old Jefferson area, occasionally wandering in from the swamps outside the city, never nesting.
Thus, I was surprised on Wednesday when, during a walk along the levee, I was treated to two individuals calling back and forth. They were giving their classic "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all" calls at 11 AM (!), with one bird being decidedly higher pitched than the other. Male owls are generally smaller than females, and I presume the higher pitched bird wad a male, calling back and forth with a lower pitched female. I wonder if they are thinking about nesting there....

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bald Eagles here and there

Yesterday afternoon, I was delighted to see a Bald Eagle sitting calmly in a small tree along River Rd in Marrero. It was unperturbed by the constant stream of cars making their afternoon commute.
It was an immature- one year old would be my guess by the extensively dark plumage. Adults are nesting now, and have drawn comments from around the area- birds are using the familiar nests visible on both sides of I-10 just west of the I-310 interchange, and the nest just off General DeGaul on the West Bank has nestlings already!


Monday, January 18, 2016

Signs of spring: birds getting "juiced"

This week I have noticed a change in the behavior of several of our resident species.  They are now entering their nesting-season preliminaries.

Two days ago, three Cardinals were vigorously countersinging from trees surrounding my yard in Old Jefferson.  I have been hearing wan versions of Cardinal songs all winter, but these birds were clearly (and loudly) staking their territories against each other- the first this year.  And the first time I have heard three singing at once at my place since Katrina (yay!).

Yesterday, a House Finch in Elmwood was, likewise, giving the first vigorous finch song I've heard this year.

Finally, today, a Mockingbird was singing robustly in the batture of Old Jefferson.  Nearby, a Mourning Dove crossed over River Road in a long arc on stiff wings:  a courship flight.  Both of these were firsts of the season for me as well.

Things are gaining momentum! 


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Recent sightings on the batture

As usual, the batture in Old Jefferson has been providing some daily pleasures.

This morning, in a twenty minute levee stroll, I was treated to 22 swimming Wood Ducks and a couple more flybys- not an uncommon species here, but usually detected in single digits.  Probably made more visible by the unusually high river, which is lapping the base of the levee.

A Common Gallinule was also present today- I only see a couple each year in this stretch. 

A flock of White Ibis and Cattle Egrets has been working the water's edge every morning, although today they were on a rain-soaked lawn barely outside the levee- 200 strong, mostly ibis. 

A flock of 120 Robins a few days ago flew out from the batture forest in the morning, headed into the residential areas nearby.  The species is a winter resident here, not the harbinger of spring as it is farther north.

This morning two Eastern Bluebirds fled a wire just long enough to dodge a meddling Kestrel.  A few days ago, a group of 45 American Pipits skittered from place to place on the grassy levee face as bicyclists and dog-walkers repeatedly (unwittingly) put them to flight.

Perhaps the most unexpected bird was a Pied-billed Grebe- seen today and a few mornings ago.  This species does not winter in this section of batture in normal conditions- not enough open water.  It appears the flooding has made the habitat more appealing.