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Saturday diversity

Our final full day benefitted from more beautiful weather and more great birding. It was another early start at the rice harvest site, with rail viewing opportunities lasting from 10 AM until the farmers shut down the day’s operations around 3:30 PM. There was a steady trickle of participants through the day, but most had obviously seen Yellow Rails on previous days and chose to bird farther afield on their own or with one of our all day field trips.Yellow Rail numbers were down again from the previous two days, with 20 or so estimated. The incredible numbers of Soras continued - certainly, hundreds were seen, possibly 1000 or more.Good numbers of Virginia Rails were also present, and most participants had great looks at one or more of the 20+ King Rails. The bird-banding crew had their hands full with many Soras captured plus at least two Yellow Rails, a King, and miscellaneous other species in the nets (a list of birds banded during Thursday-Saturday will be provided soon). Also seen in the vicinity of the harvest site were the usual tremendous numbers of herons, ibis, and grackles feasting in the freshly harvested and plowed fields. A special thanks to Joelle Finley, Ken Harris, and Paul Baicich for assisting participants with getting on and off the combines and ATV. The local AM field trip (led by Donna, Steve, Matt Brady, and Marky Mutchler) focused on finding wish list species, including Vermilion Flycatchers (4 found near Potter X Marceaux roads near Thornwell) and Barn Owls (about 10 seen at private property near Thornwell). Also of interest were Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, several Cave Swallows, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Vesper Sparrow. The Pineywoods field trip was successful in locating Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and had a bonus Say’s Phoebe at Cormier Village (Road) on the way back to Jennings. The Cameron Coast trip did very well. By far the best find were two very rare (in Louisiana) Golden Eagles soaring near Willow Island and moving west along the coast. Another rarity was a Say’s Phoebe, also at Willow Island (originally found on 26 October). We will have to wait for a full report, but at least a few of the other species of interest to participants included Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Clapper Rail, American Oystercatcher, White-tailed Kite, Seaside and Nelson’s sparrows, and Black-and-white Warbler. The Saturday evening social at the Welsh Museum gave everyone the chance to celebrate today as well as the success of the entire festival.

A King Rail pauses in the cut rice before taking flight.

Our final activity for 2019 will be the Sunday Cameron Coast trip, which departs the Hampton at 6:30 AM. Be sure to reset your clocks back one hour! Good luck tomorrow and safe travels to all!

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