© 2016 Callyn Yorke


          Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana  4 April 2016


                                                                                           © 2016 Callyn Yorke  


April 4-8, 2016 , Grand Isle, New Orleans City Park, Vacheri, Lafitte Barataria National Reserve, Paradis Oil Field, Southern Louisiana (96 Species)



Weather: Variable: Fair to overcast with light rain; 54F to 75F; wind ENE 2 -5 mph.  Tide medium low (Grand Isle: AM).

Time: 0700-1800 hrs.

Observers: M. Mendez and I.

Areas Covered: 1) Grand Isle main road and suburbs (GI): Following an overnight flight from Los Angeles, we drove a rental car directly to Grand Isle from the Louis Armstrong airport, Kenner. The route passes through bayou, agricultural fields and suburbs, terminating in saltmarsh estuary and coastal scrub on Grand Isle. The outer beach was concealed from the main Grand Isle roadway by a levee. Nearly all homes here are built up on stilts due to storms and high water. The main road through Grand Isle includes views of bayou, saltmarsh and small, isolated stands of live oak. We turned off the main road in the town of Grand Isle onto Post Rd. behind a market, where a stand of mature live oak and coastal scrub, partially owned by the Nature Conservancy, provides good cover and habitat for migrants and resident birds. Most of the landbirds observed on Grand Isle were in this small patch of oak woodland (photo), recommended in an undated internet birding report by Peter Yaukey. Stopping frequently along adjacent suburban roads in vicinity of Post Rd., we found a few birds in and among oaks and non-native plantings in yards and vacant lots. One yard had a sign Welcome Birders, but the owners (and birds) of the property were apparently absent when we arrived (4/4/16: 0840-0920 hrs.).



Post Road: A relatively rare patch of mature oaks on Grand Isle, owned by The Nature Conservancy, Grand Isle Louisiana  4 April 2016


                                                                                                                                                     © 2016 Callyn Yorke







2) Grand Isle State Park (GISP). Located at the east end of the main road through Grand Isle, is a well-maintained coastal park that includes boardwalks to the outer beach, information exhibits and clean restroom facilities. We walked to the end of the main (east) boardwalk, returning to the midway point to access the outer shore. The park service had blocked access to the portions of the beach east of the boardwalk, i.e. between the boardwalk and breakwater. The western section was open, where we spent most of the time exploring the beach, coastal scrub, small ponds and breakwater (photo). Biting sandflies were abundant throughout this area, especially when the winds subsided. Peter Yaukey's undated internet bird report questioned the need to visit this park when visiting Grand Isle, but we found it to be a highly productive coastal birding location (0940-1130 hrs.).


Grand Isle State Park showing coastal scrub, beach and breakwater west of the eastern boardwalk, Louisiana  4 April 2016


                                                                                                                                                      © 2016 Callyn Yorke









 2) New Orleans City Park (CP): This is a sprawling, 1,300 acre urban park composed of mowed and unmowed lawns, ponds, canals, bayou, mature live oak, conifers and various exotic trees and shrubs, with almost no understory or suitable cover for birds and other small animals. The park nevertheless boasts an impressive bird list of nearly 300 species, most of which are passage migrants (4/5/16: 1100-1330 hrs.).




   New Orleans City Park, southwest corner 5 April 2016  © 2016 M Mendez            New Orleans City Park Map  5 April 2016     © 2016 M. Mendez                                                                                                 

              4) Oak Alley Plantation, Vacheri, St. James Parish (OAP): This was about the only preserved live oak habitat in the Vacheri settlement, about a 50- mile drive northwest of New Orleans. Most, if not all, of the mature oaks on the 1,300 acre Oak Alley Plantation were established sometime prior to the Civil War (circa 1860). Surrounding land consisted of agricultural fields with separating rows of trees and shrubs outlining a few acres of living space; a tall levee protected the property from flooding of the Mississippi River. Birdlife was largely restricted to the oaks and associated vegetation. We walked around the grounds in the immediate vicinity of the old antebellum mansion and adjacent developments (4/6/16: 1030-1200 hrs.).








                                             Entrance to the Oak Alley Plantation, Vacheri, St. James Parish, Louisiana 6 April 2016


                                                                                                                                                                     © 2016 M. Mendez



5) Jean Lafitte Barataria National Swamp Forest Reserve, Marrero (JLF): We walked the length of the Palmetto Trail boardwalk and back to the visitor center, covering a total, round-trip distance of about 2 miles, visually and aurally surveying about 100 acres of the 10,666 -acre reserve. This is a secondary Tupelo-Cypress Swamp forest with occasional patches of closed canopy. Water depth was about 1- 2 ft. Very few of the trees appeared to be more than 3 ft. dbh. Tree species include, Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), Black Willow (Salix nigra) and Red Maple (Acer rubrum). The understory is largely composed of  Sabal Palmetto (Sabal minor) and assorted herbs. Along the boardwalk and at the northern terminus of the pathway, we encountered several lizards, including, Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis), Broad-headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps), Five-lined Skink (Eumeces inexpectatus), two snakes, Banded Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata), and Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus). One turtle was seen, Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta). No alligators were found, although other visitors that day reported seeing at least one individual on a different trail. A noisy group of school children was present during the first part of our walk near the visitor center. Otherwise, we encountered only a few other visitors along the trail. Birdlife was generally sparse, perhaps owing to the expected mid-day lull in activity. Several unseen bird species, e.g. Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Parula, were identified by their vocalizations (4/7/16: 1030-1330 hrs.).



                                                             Jean Lafitte Barataria National Reserve, Palmetto Trail, Marrero, LA  7 April 2016


                                                                                                                                                                       © 2016 Callyn Yorke





                  Jean Lafitte Barataria National Reserve, Palmetto Trail boardwalk, Marrero, LA  7 April 2016


                                                                                                                                                                                                       © 2016 Callyn Yorke



                           Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus) Palmetto Trail, Jean Lafitte Barataria Reserve,  7 April 2016


                                                                                                                                                                                         © 2016 Merissa Mendez




6) Paradis Oil Field, Paradis, St. Charles Parish (POF): We found the POF by following driving directions given by an apparently outdated internet birding report by Peter Yaukey. POF is about a 30 mile drive from central New Orleans in a westward direction. The property was gated and posted when we arrived. I checked in with the operators in a mobile home office at the main entrance and learned that birders are not permitted to be here and have not been allowed on the POF property for years. The few birds we found there were on the way in and out of the main entrance next to the railroad tracks. There is a secondary swamp forest, ponds, marsh, ruderal roadways and low, scrubby vegetation throughout, where we had brief views of a few bird species (4/8/16: 1100-1125 hrs.).






Canada Goose  20  CP.

Domestic Gray-Lag Goose  12 (exotic from Europe)  CP.

Domestic Mute Swan  1 (exotic from Europe)  CP.

Domestic Muscovy Duck  1 (exotic from S. America)   CP.

Gadwall  2  CP.

Mallard  50  CP.

Blue-winged Teal  2  swimming in a pond, GISP.

Double-crested Cormorant  10  GISP.

Brown Pelican  5 GISP.

Great Egret  10  saltwater marsh, GI; 1 CP;  3 roadside marshes, OAP.

Snowy Egret  2  roadside marsh, Vacheri.

Cattle Egret   30  ubiquitous in open fields and marshes.

Green Heron  1  POF.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron  1 CP.

Roseate Spoonbill  8  flying together over marsh, GI.

Turkey Vulture   20  ubiquitous in rural areas.

Black Vulture  6  roadside, JLF; Vacheri.

Osprey  2  salt marsh and bay, GI.

Mississippi Kite  1 (imm) flying low over forest, POF.

Bald Eagle  1 (imm) flying over plantation; chased by AMCR, OAP.

Cooper's Hawk  1  flying high over the forest, JLF.

Red-shouldered Hawk  1  repeated calls (unseen) JLF.

American Kestrel  1  roadside fields, Golden Meadow (GI).

American Coot  20  CP.

Common Moorhen  3  POF.

Black-bellied Plover  4  GISP.

Wilson's Plover  5  GISP.

Piping Plover  3 (alt. trans. plmg.) GISP (photo).


Piping Plover (Charardrius melodus) Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana 4 April 2016

                                                                                          © 2016 Callyn Yorke




Semipalmated Plover  2  GISP.

Killdeer  2  POF.

Greater Yellowlegs  2  GISP, 1 POF.

Willet   8  GISP.

Lesser Yellowlegs  1  GISP.

Ruddy Turnstone  1 GISP.

Sanderling 5  GISP.

Semipalmated Sandpiper  2  GISP.

Least Sandpiper  4  GISP.

Dunlin  2  GISP.

Dowitcher sp.  8  GISP.

Laughing Gull  100  ubiquitous near water

Ring-billed Gull  2  on canal, Golden Meadow (GI); 2 on river, New Orleans.

Herring Gull  2  on breakwater, GISP.

Glaucous-winged Gull  3  (ad, imm) flying near shore; on breakwater, GISP.

Least Tern  2  diving near shore, GISP.

Caspian Tern  2  on shore, GISP.

Royal Tern  10  on shore, GISP.

Sandwich Tern  4  on shore, GISP.

Black Skimmer  200  on shore, GISP (photo).




Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana  4 April 2016


                                                                                                                                             © 2016 Callyn Yorke



Feral Rock Pigeon (exotic from S Asia)  uibquitous in cities and other developed areas.

Eurasian Collared Dove  3 (exotic from SE Asia), CP.

Mourning Dove  ubiquitous.

Monk Parakeet  6 (exotic from S. America);  vocal, gregarious, flying; perched on stadium light platforms with large colonial nests, CP (photo).



Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monarchus) New Orleans City Park, LA  5 April 2016

                                                                                          © 2016 Callyn Yorke



Chimney Swift  20  flying over buildings in the French Quarter, New Orleans.

Red-bellied Woodpecker   repeated calls (unseen) JLF.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1 (m)  foraging on main trunks of mature oaks, CP (photo).


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) same individual in both images; New Orleans City Park, LA 5 April 2016


                                                              © 2016 Callyn Yorke




Downy Woodpecker  1  CP.

Hairy Woodpecker  2  JLF.

Northern (YS) Flicker  2 (m,f)   CP (photo).


Northern Yellow-Shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus auratus) New Orleans City Park, LA  5 April 2016


                                                                                                    © 2016 Callyn Yorke




Pileated Woodpecker  1  repeated calls (unseen) JLF.

Eastern Kingbird  2  coastal scrub, GISP.

Loggerhead Shrike  1 on utility pole at edge of agricultural field, OAP.

White-eyed Vireo  2  repeated song, subcanopy of deciduous trees, JLF (photo).



White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) Lafitte Barataria National Reserve, Marrero, LA 7 April 2016

                                                                                      © 2016 Callyn Yorke




Red-eyed Vireo  3  vocal; foraging oaks and in deciduous trees, GI, CP (photo); JLF.



Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) New Orleans City Park, LA  5 April 2016

                                                                                                 © 2016 Callyn Yorke







Blue Jay  20  vocal, gregarious; ubiquitous though often shy in wooded areas (photo).



Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) New Orleans City Park, LA  5 April 2016

                                                                                                       © 2016 Callyn Yorke



American Crow   ubiquitous.

Purple Martin  1  GI.

Barn Swallow  1  GISP.

Carolina Chickadee  5 vocal, gregarious, CP.

Tufted Titmouse  1 GI; 1 CP; 1 JLF.

House Wren  1 GI.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1 GI; 1 CP.

American Robin  2  GI; 6 CP.

Gray Catbird  1 calls (unseen) GI.

Northern Mockingbird   ubiquitous.

European Starling   8 (exotic from Europe)  GI;  20 Vacheri.

Cedar Waxwing  10  CP.

Orange-crowned Warbler  1 song (unseen) JLF.

Northern Parula  2  song (unseen) JLF.

Yellow-throated Warbler  1 GI.

Palm Warbler  1  on shaded roadway beneath oaks, GI (photo).


Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) Post Road, Grand Isle, LA  4 April 2016

                                                                   © 2016 Callyn Yorke



Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler  ubiquitous, vocal, gregarious.

Chestnut-sided Warbler  1 in oaks, GI.

Bay-breasted Warbler  flying between suburban garden trees, GI.

Black & White Warbler  1  lower limbs of oaks, GI (photo).



Black & White Warbler (Mniotilta varia) Post Rd. Grand Isle, LA  4 April 2016


                                                              © 2016 Callyn Yorke



Prothonotary Warbler  3 (m)  territorial set-ups; repetitive singing and moving quickly through understory of swamp forest, JLF (photo).



Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) Lafitte Barataria National Reserve, Marrero, LA  7 April 2016


                                                                                                 © 2016 Callyn Yorke




Mourning Warbler  1 repeated calls (unseen) from dense vines and undergrowth at edge of woodland, GI.

White-throated Sparrow  vocal on ground in dense coastal scrub next to parking area, GISP.

Northern Cardinal  ubiquitous.

Red-winged Blackbird  ubiquitous, vocal, gregarious.

Eastern Meadowlark  vocal (unseen) fallow fields, Vacheri.

Common Grackle  2  on ground under oak, GI.

Boat-tailed Grackle (m,f) noted distinctive calls; rounded head, dark iris, slender bill, c.f. GTGR;  vocal, gregarious; usually near water; GI, GISP; POF (photos).



Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) male; same individual in both images Paradis Oil Field, Paradis, LA  8 April 2016


                                                                          © 2016 Callyn Yorke



Bronzed Cowbird 1?  seen briefly on lawn in town, GI.

Brown-headed Cowbird  2  in canopy of oaks, GI.

Baltimore Oriole  1  flew across the road, JLF.

House Sparrow (exotic from Europe)  ubiquitous.