Louisiana Wild

By Eilene Lyon

Since we won’t be traveling in the foreseeable future, I decided to look back at a trip we made in April 2012 to Louisiana – our first visit to the “deep South.” It coincided with the migratory bird festival on Grand Isle. And since this past Saturday was World Migratory Bird Day (May 9th – who knew?), I’ll focus on the birds and wildlife we saw. In a future post, I’ll cover more of the cultural side of our visit.

Before we headed out to the bird festival, we arranged for a swamp tour. Our guide eventually showed up at the designated meeting point. Not a stickler for punctuality, that one. We got in the boat with his German shepherd and headed into the swamp. The guide boasted of his involvement in River Keepers, and about how he’d spotted an ivory-billed woodpecker.

No, we did not see any ivory-billed woodpeckers on our tour. In fact, I’m surprised we saw any wildlife at all, given that our guide spent most of the time yelling at the top of his lungs into his cell phone.

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Heading out to the swamp with a polite dog and crass guide.
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I didn’t get any bird shots on the swamp tour, though we did spot some prothonotary warblers and bald eagles. This beaver was a treat. Big dude.
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A brilliant tree frog. Yes, I can see you!
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Kissing cypress trees.

Next we headed for the coast to search for migratory birds. I hoped to see a painted bunting, but had to settle for an indigo one. The festival had a banding station and offered group bird walks. Many pairs of eyes help spot more birds. One of the highlights was this yellow-billed cuckoo.

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A slightly blurred look at a yellow-billed cuckoo.
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A laughing gull on the shore. Doesn’t look like it’s yucking it up much.
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A willet.

Our next stop was Avery Island, home of the Tabasco brand of hot sauce. It isn’t an island in the sense of being surrounded by water. Rather, it’s a salt dome. Much of the property is dedicated to a wildlife sanctuary, and they’ve put out platforms for herons and egrets to nest on.

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Lucky egret with a frog for supper.
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Tri-colored heron.
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More than just birds hang out here.

We stopped for lunch at a plantation that offers extensive gardens to roam through. This is NOT a migratory bird.

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In case you ever wondered what that looks like from the rear.


Then we did a hike around Lake Martin where we spied some other interesting feathered denizens.

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Possibly a red-shouldered hawk.
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Roseate spoonbill.
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Not a great photo, but an unusual sighting – barred owl.
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This lovely swamp flower is an invasive problem. Water hyacinth grows rapidly and changes the swamp ecology. It’s edible, so maybe we can eat our way out of trouble? Ha.
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And finally another non-bird species to share.

36 thoughts on “Louisiana Wild

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  1. Well the tour guide may have been a disappointment but you got a blog story out of it, so I’d say it was worth the price, whatever it was. The photo of the egret is stunningly beautiful in its simplicity.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, you saw plenty to share even if you missed an ivory-billed woodpecker. I got excited the other day when I spotted three pileated woodies in the trees behind our house.
    That egret is a handsome fella!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful wildlife photos, Eilene. In the mid-80’s, I worked for an oil company based in Lafayette, Louisiana. We used to go out into the Atchafalaya swamps. We always heard the birds, but never spotted as many as you did. We probably made more noise than even your loud-talking tour guide.

    Liked by 1 person

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