Friday, May 5, 2017

Hundreds of Mississippi Kites migrating through South Point!

This morning I took a walk out to South Point, which is the point of land from which the railroad bridge leaves New Orleans East and heads across Lake Pontchartrain to Slidell.  This is the railroad bridge visible to your left as you cross the twinspan.

South Point is interesting because it is the logical jumping off point for birds that are wanting to cross from the south shore of the lake to the north shore- by sticking northward from the southern shore, it cuts that overwater distance to 5 miles.

I had hoped for a migratory movement of some sort to be going on, but was unsure what to expect. We know big migratory movements  happen here in fall, but know virtually nothing about spring.

The point is only accessible via a mile or so walk, which starts at the "fishing bridge", which you may have noticed on the lake side of I-10 more or less across from the Irish Bayou castle.

As I walked out, I noticed  a flock of 21 Mississippi Kites negotiating the wind, which was howling from the west-northwest.   Lakefront Airport says 23 mph, gusting to 32  Felt stronger than that to me!

They made their way up to the point at about the same pace as I was walking, and we arrived there at 845 AM.

Then another flock of 22 approached, along the same tack as the others.  They headed out over the water toward Slidell and gained altitude until they were beyond range of my unaided eye.  

Around 930 the sky to the south suddenly became filled with kites- 185 in one flock!  This was far more Mississippi Kites than I had ever seen at one time before.  They were mostly low, dipping and tilting in the stiff wind.  They eventually headed out across the water, gaining height like the previous flock of 22.  I watched them through binoculars beyond naked eye visibility.

Another 10 minutes passed, and another flock- 155- appeared to the south and again headed toward me.  Shortly thereafter, another flock of 85 doing the same.

That's 468 Mississippi Kites in an hour.  That's crazy- quite likely a new record high count for the state of Louisiana, and something I never would have anticipated.

Two brief snippet videos are below, of parts of the flocks, taken by cellphone.

Good birding!