Although we were prepared for a Halloween “trick” to be played on us by the continuing unsettled weather, it turned out to be a day of treats as the skies gradually cleared and strong north winds dried the ripe rice waiting to be harvested. Cool and delightful. Thursday is normally our busiest “rail day.” The morning was dedicated to continuing registration and information tables at the Hampton Inn, followed by the orientation at Mike’s Seafood Restaurant. Good news: harvesting would commence at 2 PM, which allowed 2-3 hours of birding in-between the orientation and harvesting. Participants freelanced on their own or joined local field trips to Lacassine Pool and the general Thornwell area. Special thanks to our field trip leaders Paul Baicich, Eamon Corbett, Matt Janson, Oscar Johnson, Andre Moncrieff, Mac Myers, Casey Wright for scrambling to organize these field trips.
At the harvest site, it was possibly a festival first with two combines simultaneously harvesting two adjacent fields and then tag-teaming on another two plus larger fields. Despite the late start, the additional combine allowed more than half of our participants to be able to ride on a combine and/or the ATV on Day 1. And the rails put on a spectacular show. Logistics at the site make rail counting difficult, but crude estimates: 12 King Rails, 100 Virginia Rails, 500 Soras, and 75 YELLOW RAILS. The windy conditions prohibited the use of mist nets, but the YRARF Bird Banding Team still managed to hand-net a number of Soras and Yellow Rails and deployed at least two nano-tags on the Yellow Rails. Topping off a productive day was wonderful food and live Cajun music at Myer’s Landing. It was cold - but so refreshing compared to yesterday's hot and humid temps. We hope everyone enjoyed themselves. Early reports from the Coast from the rescheduled Black Rail survey crew this evening reports that they have banded two Black Rails.
Friday and Saturday are looking very favorable for harvesting and we are optimistic about our chances of seeing many more rails!