My wife emailed me a prank picture (title photo) while I was at the Gulf Coast. She asked if I had heard of the rare bird hanging out with the Pelicans. I had to include this for her sake.
More after the page break.
By now you all have heard about my trip to see the Sandhill Cranes on the Mississippi Coast. On a whim I drove to see the tiny shore line of Biloxi, Mississippi to look for other birds. I had to cross a small bridge that had a marsh on either side. Seemed a perfect place for birds.
There were marsh grasses and a boat launch into the main channel but not too many people. The satellite image above is better than my words can explain. I expected a lot of birds there.
I saw this lone Egret and not much more.
For the curious (or interested), the Egret was perched in a sliver of sunlight between two bridges. The water behind the Egret is in the shadow of the taller bridge (Washington Avenue). The grey blur to the right of my photos was the rail of the lower bridge (where I was sitting.) It was a happy circumstance of light, tone and texture.
The Egret flew to the bank where I got this shot.
After I drove to the shore (south of Biloxi), there was a lone Laughing Gull at the water’s edge. It was the saddest looking bird (not promoting it’s name in any way).
A single Brown Pelican flew over (headed to the fishing pier). It looked as dreary as the gull.
I turned away from the shore to capture this old Live Oak tree. Even with other trees around, the Spanish Moss made the majestic monolith seem forlorn.
Earlier that the morning (Jan. 4th) I joined a group from the Mississippi Coastal Audubon Society for their “first of year count”. We met at the Waste Treatment Plant of Jackson County, MS. Here is a link to their web site and a satellite image of the facility (a birding hot spot).
This is where I filmed most of my animals. I appreciated the welcome I received from the group and hope I helped them with their collection.
The two closest birds in the next photo are Florida sub-species of Greater Sandhill Crane — Antigone candensis pratensis (unbanded) with two banded Mississippi sub-species of Greater Sandhill Crane — Antigone canadensis pulla behind them.
Here is a short video of both types. Note: I have the old genus name of Grus instead of the new title of Antigone in my video
41 second video
The next video shows one of the many groups of Cranes feeding in the alluvial fields (enhanced by sprinklers) within the facility. A Northern Harrier flew into the area while I was filming and perched on one of the sprinkler heads. It had just caught a meal and it’s crop was full. The Harrier can see seen in the video below.
33 second video
I noticed a few Red-tail Hawks along the tree line waiting for their own chance to hunt. A mated pair of Bald Eagles had an active nest on site and the female was sitting (on a least one egg) while the male soared above. Great Blue Herons stood as sentries along the lagoon edges while Gulls, Terns and Coots worked the churning water. I spotted a flock of Boat-tail Grackles (lifers for my files) sweep among the feet of the Cranes for any overlooked morsels.
I switched from filming to observing (assisting as a spotter) for species near me, while the person recording numbers and species took notes. It was a good day of observation and I can’t wait to see the final tallies of the group when they are published.
Until then, other adventures await and I’d like to hear about your own.