Touring the Mississippi River delta

2010 January 18
by David J. Ringer

VICKSBURG, MISS. — I returned home tonight after an invigorating weekend in south Louisiana, where I was helping run an event for Audubon chapter leaders from several states along the Mississippi River.

South Louisiana is the delta of the Mississippi River and is one of the most biologically and economically productive river deltas on earth. It is also one of the world’s fastest-disappearing land masses. Human manipulation of the Mississippi River and disturbance of the wetlands themselves have resulted in the loss of 2,000 square miles over the last century or so. (“Loss” here means that marsh and swamp are washed away and replaced by open salt water.)

marsh

birders-in-mist

Saturday, field trip day, was dark and foggy, but at least it didn’t rain much in the areas we were visiting. We got in some quality birding, of course, but the purpose of the trip was to get people out into this immense mosaic of land and water so that they could begin to grasp the dynamics and importance of the system for themselves.

clapper-rail-swimming.jpg

A Clapper Rail put on a good show for us, swimming within a few yard of the group…

clapper-rail.jpg

…and then standing at the grass edge.

nelsons-sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrows — which winter in the saltmarsh — and Seaside Sparrows performed well too, perching up conspicuously in the marsh grasses and even small shrubs.

brown-pelican-in-fog.jpg

The Brown Pelican is a restoration success story. It was reintroduced into Louisiana after being wiped out in the 20th century and is today quite plentiful. The U.S. government removed Brown Pelican from its list of threatened and endangered species in 2009.

meeting

The Mississippi River’s deltaic ecosystem is in free fall. We still have a chance to save part of it, if we work together.

sanderling

Related posts:

  1. Wood Storks, etc. at Mississippi River Nature Weekend
  2. Big river birds make for great CBC
  3. Pelagic birding in the Gulf of Mexico: Mississippi Canyon in September
  4. Painted Redstart in Ocean Springs, Mississippi!
  5. Two Roseate Spoonbills on Vicksburg CBC!
3 Responses leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010

    Love the second photo with the fog!

  2. January 19, 2010

    I’m glad you got the rail in and out of the water. Those are good shots.

  3. January 20, 2010

    This was a really fun and educational trip. I hope everyone there had as much fun as i did! Looking forward to the info from Ecuador

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