Friday, April 27, 2007

ABA: Tuesday

The 2007 American Birding Association convention began Monday evening in Lafayette, La., but the birding officially began Tuesday morning with various field trips. I was in a bettin' mood and hopped into the van for the migration gamble at 5 a.m.

With Dave Muth and Gary Rosenberg at the front of the van, we drove west and south toward the Gulf Coast, specifically toward Holly Beach. During the two-hour drive and particularly on the coast, we saw evidence of damage from Hurricane Rita in September 2005, like a red compact car in the marsh and a huge sea buoy on the beach, and a brisk wind greeted us as we stood along the beach.

Amid the various shorebirds and terns, I really enjoyed watching 17 Brown Pelicans -- the Pelican State's official bird -- fly past us. They looked rather... regal.

Next, we stopped at Baton Rouge Audubon Society's Peveto Woods Sanctuary, and I fell in love with Summer Tanagers. Wowza. Known as a migrant trap, Peveto (PEVV-et-oh) wasn't dripping with birds during our visit, but I liked seeing Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-and-white Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Here's one spot along the many trails through the live oaks.

As we drove toward the ferry to Cameron, we briefly watched a White-tailed Kite in the distance. Those raptors are so cool. While on the ferry, we saw American White Pelican and immature Black Tern.

On the drive to the Cameron jetty, two sharp-eyed birders spotted Clapper Rail in two sites. At the jetty, we ate lunch and got to see more hurricane damage up-close. The wind and rain from Rita scoured the campground facilities, and only concrete pads, bent rebar and snapped utility hookups remain.

On the beach, the huge numbers of Black Skimmers (such neat birds), terns, Laughing Gulls and Brown Pelicans included a Glaucous Gull, which prompted some digiscoping by Gary. Dave said the sighting could be a state record.

On the way to Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, we saw various waterbirds along the road. At the refuge, I enjoyed Green Heron, Eastern Kingbird, Northern Shoveler and Roseate Spoonbill. Those big pink birds are fabulous.

We made another stop, but that turned out to be just a deposit in the Louisiana blood bank, thanks to the vicious mosquitoes! Don't forget bug repellent when birding here!

Aside from the birds, I enjoyed the flowers at various stops. Know what they are?

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