Monday, April 20, 2009

New Orleans City Park - good birding!

In my crappy hotel room with no window I had to guess when it might be getting light, phoned a cab and got to the City Park in the dark and pissing rain. I stood in the shelter of some bushes for 30 minutes, watching some scary lightning flashes split the sky and trying not to catch the eye of the local loonies. Cheered myself up by wondering if this weather would bring some migrating warblers down. Eventually it got light, and game on, with the roosting Laughing Gulls taking off, and a large lake next to the Museum of Art holding Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant and Brown Pelican, Canada Goose, and a flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks flying around.

With no gen whatsoever, I had to start wandering round at random and hoping to bump into birds. This happened! Recorded 5 Least Terns fishing and calling in the ponds, then collected some Green Herons, Cattle Egrets and 4 White Ibises - those last ones the first ones I've seen on the ground(!). Some Common Grackles, Blue Jays, Northern Mockingbirds and Eastern Kingbirds around, and then a surprise... proper birding... a Solitary Sandpiper feeding in the mud at lake edge.

Followingthe Solitary sandpiper round lead me into a little copse, and it turned out the canopy was alive. With birds, even. A Yellow Warbler, 2 Baltimore Orioles, Summer Tanagers and a male Scarlet Tanager, Red-eyed Vireo and Carolina Chickadees, a stonking Chestnut-sided Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker and a female Hooded Warbler.

After this, I stopped trying digibinning in poor light. Female Hooded Warbler.

And I also bumped into another couple of birders whi gave me directions to the 'best part' - Couturie Forest, further up the park. OK, I'll head there, but it was quite a walk and as I headed up the water's edge in the right general direction, I got a male Myrtle Warbler, Downy Woodpecker, Northern (yes Northern) Waterthrush, a male Common Yellowthroat and a male Hooded Warbler. Under the road, still following the trees, and things kept coming - American Robin (my first of the trip), Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2 Yellow-throated Warblers (phwoargh!) and a female American Redstart - the joy at this one tempered only by the fact it wasn't a male. A tainted tick!

Barn Swallows over the open ground and some Tree Swallows buzzing round like House Martins on steroids. There was an Osprey perched high in a dead tree by some new lake I found, and an Alligator in the water. I resolved to be more careful near the water.

Moving on, a Blue Grosbeak doing bugger all at the top of a tree, and then a Great-crested Flycatcher - wow! What a whopper. Another whopper, a Turkey Vulture overhead.

I stumbled into Couturie Forest, and again started wandering around at random - seeing nothing to start with, but then cheered up by a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak visible from the platform at the top of the hill. Then down the other side - and bumped into the 2 birders I met earlier - they showed me a Kentucky Warbler. Nice. Then wandering around a bit more, there was another birder there too, and saw a day-glo Prairie Warbler, Tenessee Warbler, 2 Blue-winged Warblers, Gray Catbird, White-eyed Vireo, and a Cardinal. I was getting quite pleased with my haul by now. Out of the wood, and a flock of 8 Indigo Buntings flushed with ease :-$ and a Red-shouldered Hawk overhead.

As it warmed up, these lizards came out to eat these dragonflies.

It was now 6 hours since I was dumped inthe rain, and though the weather had cheered up I was starting to think I should maybe turn round and start heading back. But the birds conspired against me - another small copse surrounding the sort of ruined toliet block where bums like to hang out attracted my attention by flashing another Hooded Warbler at me, and then when I went in, found some more Carolina Chickadees, Yellow Warblers, 3 Blue-winged Warblers, 2 Tenessee Warblers and a flock (flock!) of 5 Myrtle Warblers. A movement up in the canopy turned out to be a Black-throated Green Warbler, and another movement turned into a CERULEAN WARBLER - surely the best warbler there is. Except then my tainted tick came back for untainting - a male American Redstart hoved into view, and I knew the world had gone nuts when I was getting irritated by the Myrtle Warbler getting in the way of a clear view of it. There was a House Wren in here too. It really was time to start the long walk back downtown, so I did, though a Cooper's Hawk attached itself to my trip list before I got to the bar, and I flushed a Killdeer as I tried to find a way under the Interstate.

If we can have the Whistling Ducks, can we have the Muscovies too?

Fantastic day's birding.


Alan Tilmouth said...

Just like home eh....

Martin said...

just like it!