Friday, May 30, 2014

The Land Between Rivers

Frenchtown Conservation Area, also known as "The Land Between Rivers" is a 496 acre nature area operated by BREC (Recreation and Park Commission for the parish of East Baton Rouge). The acreage consists of bottomland hardwood forest, including small stream forest and spruce-pine hardwood-flatwood forest habitats--both of which are ranked globally as rare or imperiled. It's great for birding, exploring and hiking. At the end of Railroad Trail (1/2 mile) is the Amite River with a nice stretch of sandy beach.

Two notable birds spotted were the painted buntings and yellow-breasted chats. Double D and I were over the moon! But you would laugh at my photos...especially the chat. All I could get was a blurred shot of his underside in a thick tangle of brush. Grrrr. No matter, here are some other things we saw...
Periodical cicada. Some call them locusts, but that is incorrect.
These 13-year periodical cicadas spend their lives underground feeding off the fluids from deciduous trees.
Once mature, they emerge all at once in staggering numbers. The sound is amazing. It sounded like
an ocean or swiftly moving river was nearby. Incredible!

I think this is a Needham's Skimmer.

An Eastern fence lizard, male.

Close up

The only time I've ever seen a pipevine swallowtail that stayed still for more than a minute.

My first time to see an indigo bunting away from a feeding station.
His expression says, "Who you lookin' at?"

Enjoy the weekend, y'all! My 31-year old "baby" is arriving today. We have a very short weekend together so I'll catch back up with you guys on Monday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Noticed this "fence" as we were leaving Jefferson Island. I'm calling it a fence because it has posts and a wire strung between them. Not sure if the moss ended up there naturally or someone thought to put it there. Both images were snapped with the iPhone.

Here are some other shots with moss in them.
Breeding great egret, Lake Martin, 3/22/14

Rose-breasted grosbeak, my backyard, 4/26/14 (moss on far right)

Barbara the barred owl, Bluebonnet Swamp, 3/16/14 (moss also on right side)

Back in February I told you about the barred owl pair, Barbara & Barry, who made a nest close to the boardwalk at Bluebonnet Swamp. The chicks were scheduled to appear the second week in April. Weeks went by without any sightings of the parents, much less the owlets. Finally, Barbara appeared a couple weeks ago preening on a boardwalk railing; another day she was spotted bathing in dirt. Some days later, Barry made his presence known. The chicks were never seen, so we don't know if the harsh winter did them in, or if a predator got them. We were so disappointed. But at least the parents are okay and we know they will try again next year.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ring Around The Roseates

What can I say? I'm running out of clever titles. *groan*

The roseate spoonbill is one of the more animated birds I've encountered on my birding adventures. They are difficult to photograph because they're constantly in motion and nest far away. These were taken at Rip's Rookery near Jefferson Island, an hour-and-a-half south of Baton Rouge.

Someone's falling down on the bathroom cleaning duties!
On yesterday's post a few people asked about the metal band on the indigo bunting's leg. Here is a link to the bird banding program at our local nature center if you'd like to know more. Sometimes I forget that not all people visiting my blog are birders. Sorry for that, and I have since amended the post. Also, I like to answer questions personally by email since it's not likely you'll come back here to get your answer; however, some of you don't have an email address enabled in your profile. Thank you for your comments AND questions! I love both!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Blues from the Blind

I hope everyone had a nice Memorial weekend here in the U.S. God bless our military.

Double D and I birded on Saturday (spotted the painted bunting and yellow-breasted chat!), and Sunday afternoon I drove to my dad's in Mississippi so we could fish early on Monday morning. A very relaxing few days. Regular blog visiting to resume today to see what you've been up to. :)

Since I haven't had time to process my photos from the weekend, here are more images of the Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting from inside the tent blind on 4/24/2014.
Blue grosbeak cracking a seed

Indigo bunting getting concerned about my camera clicks.

Edit 8:55PM: A few of you asked about the metal band around the bird's leg. Our local nature center has a banding program to provide important scientific data such as studying bird demographics, identifying important habitats, monitoring the physiological condition of birds, and identifying declining species. I always answer questions asked, but your email address must be enabled on your Blogger profile. Thanks for the comments and questions! I love to get both. :)

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Prothonotary Parents

After visiting Jefferson Island last Saturday we made time to go kayaking at Lake Martin. There was still enough light to bird when we were finished paddling. Upon entering the boardwalk a young woman was standing on the middle slat of the boardwalk fence, leaning against a tree for support, pointing her camera down toward the water. Four prothonotary warbler chicks were sitting in a rotted cypress tree that was jutting about 3' out of the water. The parents were returning to the nest every few minutes with caterpillars and all sorts of insects. It was really neat to watch.
Here you can see a hungry baby in the lower left of the frame. Baby bokeh!

Look how wide the babies' mouths get! Dang, that's a hungry young'un.

I think this might be Dad since he is a brighter yellow

This is probably Mom with her darker yellow feathers. She and her mate never stopped feeding.

Dad again! I was impressed with their devotion to their chicks. Oh how I wish the light had been better that day!

I included this photo because I learned how to use the Radial Filter in Lightroom 5.
There is a great tutorial here if you have LR5. Basically you select an area in the image
that you want lightened or darkened for subject enhancement. It's really an easy process!
Cheers to the weekend! I hope it's as beautiful in your area as it is here. We found out where the yellow-breasted chats are, so Double D and I plan to scope out the area on Saturday.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


This is one way to dress up a chain-link fence. Mardi Gras beads year-round! Spotted this as we were leaving Breaux Bridge, LA last weekend. This old house sits on the main drag around the corner from the antique district. I wouldn't do this to my home, but I think it's super cool!

Please join me with TexWisGirl's Good Fences meme!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rip's Rookery

Jefferson Island in New Iberia, LA is a beautiful place for birding, dining and boating. Outside the entrance is a large rookery with mostly Roseate Spoonbills, Cattle Egrets, White Ibises, and ALLIGATORS. The area is mowed to encourage hiking and photography around the rookery except for thick vegetation close to the water, home to insectivorous birds and nesting gators.

Walking along I suddenly heard a loud plunge which stopped me dead in my tracks. Gazing out over the water I spied a baby alligator. Oh no. Babies. That means mama is close. Using my tripod as a barrier I walked slowly and carefully noticing more and more babies in the water. What to do??? I needed to get closer to the Roseates...would I let this new discovery stop me? Double D finally caught up to me and after a brief discussion decided we would both walk the path to get nearer the roseates. I prayed out loud; I really did. I was truly spooked. We successfully birded the rookery without incident, thank God.

Here are just a few teasers. I have so many roseate spoonbill shots to share, it's unreal.
Baby gator or possibly an adolescent. Only his head was visible.

First time I've seen a roseate spoonbill sitting on the nest.

Cattle egrets

White Ibis

Cattle egret gathering sticks

One of several baby gators.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Took these shots on the last day of April at Bluebonnet Swamp. Sometimes when the birds aren't cooperating I turn to other critters to pass the time.

Nom nom nom nommmmmmm

Who, me?

What'd I do?

What is that bird DOING?

Time to skedaddle!

This is the blind I use at Bluebonnet Swamp. As you can see, the area is getting
quite overgrown. Last week, my compadres found a cotton mouth snake near the tent.
No more blind sitting for me unless I wear my thick rubber boots, which is not likely in this heat.