Yesterday's evening finale of Soras continued to today...a lot of birds must have moved south with the front. Fields cut today must have flushed.
So - for Fabulous Friday we commenced harvesting relatively early = 10 AM. We cut rice and watched rails for almost seven hours! Today’s rice fields tended to be wetter than yesterday’s and Yellow Rails were fewer- we estimate “only” 25 or so. King Rails were also relatively scarce with approximately 15 observed. But numbers of Soras and Virginias - incredible. We conservatively estimate 1000 Soras and 200 Virginias. Also seen at today’s harvest site were 4 Franklin’s Gulls, American Bittern, vast numbers of ibis, Bald Eagle, Swainson’s Hawk, Harlan’s Hawk, at least 5 Crested Caracaras, 2 Peregrine Falcons, and a few Cave Swallows. Special thanks to facilitators Joelle Finley, Ken Harris, Matt Janson, and Eugene Huryn for assisting with combine rides and parking logistics at the harvest site. The Bird-Banding crew was in full operation and captured 2 Yellow Rails and dozens of Soras and other birds. This was despite (along with several of our facilitators, and about 20 participants) having been up into the wee hours of the AM during Thursday night’s Coastal Rail Watch trip, where four Black Rails were captured and banded, along with one yellow Rail and several Virginia Rails. Way to go Team!! Believe it or not, the Coastal Rail contingent is doing an encore performance tonight! No word yet from the coast. The AM field trip to the Thornwell area (led by Donna Dittmann, Steve Cardiff, Anna Hiller, Oscar Johnson, Matt Janson, and Eugene Huryn) enjoyed Ross’s Geese, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 10 or so Barn Owls, several Crested Caracaras, Merlin, 4 Vermilion Flycatchers, a couple of Cave Swallows, great looks at Sedge Wrens, Tennessee Warbler, Indigo Bunting, and a couple of flyover Dickcissels. Reports from the Crowley WTP /Falcon Rice Mill field trip (led by Dave Patton, Paul Baicich, Casey Wright, and Eamon Corbett) included a good variety of ducks and other species at the sewer ponds, a fun and informative tour of the rice mill, and a successful search for a stake-out pair Whooping Cranes on the way back to Thornwell.