DATE: 28 March 2010
The morning and early afternoon had proved productive. The amoeba-like mass of birders to which I belonged had amorphously wandered through most of the woods and field of Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish, and had turned up many good birds. Northern Parulas were singing in people's yards, a surprise Swallow-tailed Kite arced above a wooded lot, and a flock of warblers sat above a termite nest, feasting on the emerging queens. The bright colors of the freshly molted warblers was nice; the buff breast of the Worm-eating Warbler, the flash of the Swamp Canary (Prothonotary Warbler) in the brush, the dapper Black-and-white and several Palm Warblers flitted in the oaks. However, our greatest surprise on the day was on the coast a little while later. We were all but finished for the day, having scoured almost every patch of barrier island dirt, when the lingering winter migrants began to show. The increasing numbers of shorebirds were overlooked as we gazed to see at the line of 60+ Northern Gannets cruising through the near-shore waters. As we all stood there exhausted, we prepared to leave when Kevin Morgan suggested that we check one more spot. I sighed tiredly, and we began to venture out towards the other end of Elmer's Island.
I believe we all had thoughts of just going home at this point. We had birded Grand Isle, and we had a great day. But then, we spied a last group of gulls, and certain words inappropriate for younger audiences dribbled from my lips: in the back of the group was a gigantic white gull. There was no mistaking it. It was a second-cycle Glaucous Gull! We excitedly began to get out of the car to document this amazing bird. The best bird of our spring migration day turned out to be a lingering winterer from the far north. This large gull reminded to always expect the unexpected.
2nd Cycle Glaucous Gull, Grand Isle, Louisiana