12 March 2009

Louisiana Loitering

For the past 5 days, my family and I have been traveling around Louisiana to look at Louisiana State University and whatever else we might come across. I managed to squeeze in some birding, and got a state list of 79 by the time we boarded the plane - not bad for not going birding. Louisiana is definitely an amazing state though-the endless bayous, swamps, and "upland" forests that resemble jungles more than anything else. We wandered around the swamps of St. Marin Parish in particular, given that we were staying near the Lafayette/Vermilion Parish boundary and it was between us and Baton Rouge. There we saw Alligators, Roseate Spoonbills, Anhingas by the dozen, and lots of Cajun folk. I managed to get a few gator pics from Lake Martin, including this brute loafing on a log:
Wandering around the rest of Southeastern Louisiana, we got to see a lot of other interesting things. Avery Island was incredible for the sole reason that you get free Tabasco for walking through the door! It is also the cheapest place to buy it by the gallon that I know of. We didn't have the cash to visit the rest of the island, so I was pleased to see a Louisiana Heron (now known as the Tricolored Heron) at the entrance to the park. Other places we visited included coastal St. Mary Parish, where the swamps abutted into the ocean with Boat-tailed Grackles and other birds flying through the picnic areas, and where my dad spotted the most photogenic Wilson's Snipes I have ever seen.
In all, we visited about a dozen parishes, the French Quarter of New Orleans (one of the most disturbing places I have ever been), made a small hop into Mississippi, and drove across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. That is most definitely the longest bridge I have ever been on. The scenery, college, and awesome birds make me want to go to college in Louisiana. That would amazing.

Oh, and Vermilion Parish was incredible birdwise - it is the only spot I have had Inca Dove, Blue-headed Vireo, both Kinglets, and Fishcrow in the same yard, at the same time (except for the Golden-crowned Kinglet, which stuck around just long enough to be one of my first state birds down there).

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