Add-on Field Trips
If you are considering a change of scenery, or want to increase your species total for the festival, then join a local leader and venture farther afield to visit other habitats. Two all-day trips are offered: one to the coast and one to the longleaf pineywoods. As with all of the trips, participation is “laid back” and participants can venture off on their own or depart at any time during the trip. Add-on Field Trips can not be purchased individually - must be an add-on item to a YRARF Festival Package.
NOTE: These field trips are not bus or van tours - personal transportation is required, carpooling is possible but please understand many are not inclined to make their vehicles available due to Covid-19! Except for the Cameron Coast EVENING BLACK RAIL SURVEY trips, depending on interest and pre-registrations, we may be able to add additional trips to these areas. If there are vacancies you may be able to sign up for an Add-on trip once at the festival.
Leaders guide groups to sites with target species; they have knowledge about the sites and bird species found there, and help spot and identify birds. Because these trips use personal transportation, this also allows participants to be independent (if so inclined), leave early or strike off on their own. If this kind of group trip is not for you then you should visit these sites on your own (self-guided instructions available, or consult with the YRARF Field Trip Coordinator).
This trip will be offered on Wednesday (as a pre-festival trip) and on Saturday. Review how Weather Contingency Plan may affect this trip.
Habitat: This trip will visit long leaf pine woodland, which is managed for Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Return trip may include other habitats, including rice fields, turf grass farm and land fill.
Birds: Primary targets are longleaf pineywoods specialties: Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Bachman’s Sparrow are highly probable if the weather cooperates. This area of the pineywoods is generally not that birdy and, at this time of year, birds occur in widely scattered flocks. Henslow’s Sparrow is possible, but the species tends to arrive after late fall cold fronts and the timing of the festival is typically just a little early. To locate Bachman’s Sparrows (and maybe a Henslow’s), the group will walk through good-looking grassy areas. The grassy understory varies from year to year and flushing the sparrows may entail quite a bit of walking. Other expected species include Brown-headed Nuthatch. Red-headed, Red-bellied, Hairy, and Pileated woodpeckers, Carolina and Sedge wrens, Eastern Bluebird, Pine Warbler, and Chipping Sparrow. Greater Roadrunner is a longshot, but does occur in that area.
Weather: Can be anything from gorgeous, warm and dry, to hot and humid or cold and rainy. Trips will go rain or shine. Generally this area is less buggy than the coast - but there can be mosquitoes and the occasional deer fly. Ticks are not usually a problem. On nice days, we have worn shorts in the pineywoods, but there is poison ivy and many thorny vines, making long sleeves and long pants and boots advisable.
Route: Trip will leave the Hampton and drive directly north, and depending on destination with a quick pit stop enroute. The goal of these trips is to reach our destination in pineywoods at or near daybreak, especially if there are stacked out Red-cockaded Woodpecker roost holes. The woodpeckers will be our primary target. Time permitting, the trip often makes it back south for afternoon birding around Lake Charles or the rice fields; participants can also choose to head back early to have some time on Saturday at the harvest site (weather permitting).
Cameron Coast $25.00/person
This trip will be offered on Saturday and Sunday. Review how the Weather Contingency Plan may affect this trip.
Habitats: This trip will visit fresh and saltwater marshes, gulf beach, and coastal chenier woods.
Birds: Species often on visitor wish lists and more reliable on the Coast trip include: Mottled Duck, Neotropic Cormorant, Reddish Egret, Glossy Ibis, White-tailed Kite, Clapper Rail, American Oystercatcher, Snowy, Wilson’s, and Piping plovers, Long-billed Curlew, Franklin’s and Lesser Black-backed gulls, Gull-billed Tern, Fish Crow, Nelson’s and Seaside sparrows, and Bronzed Cowbird. Additional migrants (e.g., various flycatchers, warblers, vireos, thrushes, orioles) are possible in coastal cheniers, but are generally scarce by early November. Rarities sometimes turn up; Keep tabs on local finds at either LABIRD or LABIRD facebook.
Conditions: Over the years this trip has experienced everything from dry, hot, and humid to rainy, cold, and windy. These trips will go rain or shine, unless conditions are dangerous. An approaching cold front can be excellent for grounding late migrants. Insect pests can range for none to BAD - at this time of the year, it is usually mosquitoes, but there can also be deer flies. Long sleeves and long pants are generally recommended. Rubber boots also come in handy if only to protect you from accidentally standing in a fire ant mound. Most of the trips’s birding is from the roadside, but to explore cheniers, you will be on foot on grassy trails.
Route: The route varies. These trips occur during the weekend of the Louisiana Ornithological Society Fall Meeting, which is based in the town of Hackberry due to ongoing LNG construction in Cameron (note this may also impact YRARF trips). Route from Jennings will take into account knowledge of interesting birds found, or of area conditions. This trip will either head towards the coast on an eastern route via Oak Grove or a western route via Holly Beach. If on the eastern route, group may visit Cameron Prairie NWR depending on water levels and how birdy those areas have been the previous week. Depending on bird activity and pace, it is possible to visit locations on both the eastern (Oak Grove to Cameron) and western (Holly Beach-Johnsons Bayou area) segments by crossing the Calcasieu River ferry at Cameron. NOTE: There will be ongoing LNG construction in the town of Cameron and East Jetty (Davis) Road is closed to the public; you can no longer drive to Jetty Park. The ferry is sometimes out of service, which can obviously affect the itinerary; it is sometimes replaced by a smaller ferry with steep ramp angles, and low slung vehicles/sports cars may not be allowed to pass. Participants can bring a lunch, but the group will usually stop for a quick lunch break at a local eatery. Participants should be prepared with snacks and beverages. The area is still recovering from hurricane damage.
EVENING Black Rail Survey Trip $50.00/person
Assist with a salt marsh banding operation in Cameron Parish using rope pulls and spotlights! Target species is Black Rail, which has been flushed and banded during previous YRARF Evening Black Rail Survey trips. The number of participants is limited to 8 per evening and registration your fee goes to support Audubon Louisiana banding projects, including these. Note that this activity is AFTER DARK in a coastal salt marsh. This trip will be strenuous. Walking in salt marsh can be extremely hard especially in the dark; the ground is uneven with holes, vegetation is thick and knee-deep or deeper, and it is wet. We encourage participants to bring their own headlamps. During previous banding efforts, groups have walked about half a mile or more to flush a handful of rails. There are no standing, sitting, or side-viewing areas – to see the rails you have to participate with the drag in the marsh and keep up with the group. There is no other way to join the group except by participating on the drag. It can be buggy = MOSQUITOES! Lots of them. See also how Weather Contingency Plan may affect this trip. Minimum number of participants to make this trip a go is 4. If full then please ask to be on the Wait List. It is not uncommon for participants to have a change of heart after they fully consider how strenuous this trip can be.
Photos: Audubon Louisiana. For more information about their project click on the Black Rail above.