On Jan. 5, Nancy Madden found a Painted Redstart just east of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, on the Jackson County Christmas Bird Count. The bird has been seen every day since. I was in Mississippi today for an event at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, and what was I going to do, just drive right past the bird without stopping? Ha.
It’s Christmas Bird Count time again! I did my first CBC back in 2000 and have been hooked ever since, taking part in counts in Missouri, Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana over the years.
This weekend, I did three consecutive counts in remote southwest Louisiana: the Lacassine NWR-Thornwell, Sabine NWR, and Sweet Lake-Cameron Prairie NWR counts. These were all new counts for me. I had a blast and saw somewhere north of 130 species on the three counts combined. Caracaras, a White-tailed Kite, owls, shorebirds, and a thousand Sandhill Cranes were some of the highlights. Here are some more, in pictures:
Next count coming up on Wednesday! With any luck, I’ll get in six different counts this year.
We encountered a dark juvenile jaeger on last weekend’s Mississippi Canyon pelagic birding trip out of Venice, Louisiana. The bird was far offshore, near the edge of the canyon. We identified it as a possible Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) in the field, but of course, identification of jaegers is very complex, and as photographs made the rounds over the last week, they sparked quite a bit of discussion. I’ve pulled together several images of the bird here, thanks to four generous photographers. Images belong to them and are used with permission.
Putting it all together, then, I believe that if I’m interpreting the images correctly, the combination of pointed central rectrices, barred greater under primary coverts, a smaller head and finer bill, and half-black feet all point toward an ID of Parasitic Jaeger. Parasitic Jaeger is on the Louisiana Bird Record Committee’s review list. Below are some additional images, and I welcome comments, questions, and alternative or supporting interpretations.
Last weekend, I joined 18 other birders from Louisiana and Mississippi on pelagic trip from Venice, La., organized by Justin and Devin Bosler. Our destination was the Mississippi Canyon, a deep gash in the continental shelf edge about 40 miles south of Grand Isle, La.
Pelagic birding in the Gulf of Mexico is famously less productive than off our Pacific and Atlantic coasts. However, the Mississippi River Delta’s long, finger-like projections out across the continental shelf and the deep underwater Mississippi Canyon lie close enough together to offer day-tripping birders one of the best shots at true deep-water pelagic birds anywhere on the northern gulf.
Jellyfish, sea turtles, a shark, and cetaceans also caught our attention. You can see a video clip of bowriding bottlenose dolphins on my Facebook page.
You can also check out Erik Johnson’s account of the day, and I’ll be doing a second post about a certain young jaeger we encountered.