April 24, 2013 – No dredging – Marshbird Surveys

Dredge and Rainey Report
No dredging – Marshbird Surveys

April 24, 2013

Low water patterns dominate, discouraging dredging. The dredge is at the limit of the hose length in the canal, and any dredging would require moving hoses and the dredge, and moving it back every evening to be out of the way of traffic to the Coles Bayou project area. This week, we conducted marshbird surveys.

This report can be downloaded in PDF file format by clicking the Dredge and Rainey Report, No Dredging – Marshbird Surveys hyperlink.

Monday, April 22

Karen and Erik Johnson met at the ICC boat ramp at the same time Timmy was getting fuel at Shell Morgan, so both boats arrived together at the Rainey headquarters at 2:30. Erik and Karen left at 3:30 to clear the trails established last year for the marshbird survey points along North Canal and McIlhenny Canal. We started clearing a few along Last Point Canal until it was time to start the evening survey. From 5:30 to 9:00 pm, we surveyed marshbirds along route A: Pig Trap to Last Point Canal. At each point, we recorded any target birds identified by call or sight including direction and distance, then record the same information following recorded calls of specific birds. Each survey takes 13 minutes, then we pack up and move on to the next point.

Tuesday, April 23

The morning marshbird survey starts early – 30 minutes before sunrise. This morning we were on site at 6:00 AM to run route B, which is across from the headquarters to North Canal. Surprisingly, the mosquitoes were not too bad. This route uses our dredge walkway for one of the points, so it was nice to have an official recording of what was there. We even had two Soras make a front-stage appearance. Stilt sandpipers were also running around on the mudflat, but those went into eBird instead of the marshbird count.

After a long midday break, we left again at 3:30 to clear the south trails for later this afternoon and tomorrow morning. At 5:30 pm we started route C along Last Point Canal which runs east and north of the Goose Pond.

Figure 1. Erik listening for marsh bird calls from an endless sea of grass.

Figure 1. Erik listening for marsh bird calls from an endless sea of grass.

Wednesday, April 24

Another early start, we had to leave 15 minutes earlier to be on site at 6:00 AM for route D, which runs from the Goose Pond to Bob Gill location canal. Weather closed in on us toward the end of our route, and we decided not to complete the last point based on the weather radar. It was a15-minute race back to the camp and the weather won – we got pushed sideways along the canal by high winds and were soaked to the skin by the time we made it under that glorious, under-appreciated boatshed.

When the weather moved on, we had a bird migration fall-out. Our 4 Barn Swallows were joined by 35 more, along with a hundred Tree Swallows, a Cliff Swallow and Cave Swallow; and they were having a flying-frenzy party through the trees, buildings and over the canal. We took a walk down the headquarters trail and saw quite a few warblers, buntings, vireos, gnatcatchers, flycatchers, etc. You could actually see more birds if you sat on the deck and watched them stream by – I just couldn’t tell what they were and relied on Erik to call them out.

On our way back to the boat ramp, we passed the Broussard Brothers barge setting up at the Bay Coast location canal for needed repairs to the weir.

Figure 2. Broussard Brothers LLC setting up for weir repair.

Figure 2. Broussard Brothers LLC setting up for weir repair.

Karen A Westphal and Timmy J Vincent, National Audubon Society
Louisiana Coastal Initiative and the Paul J Rainey Wildlife Refuge
6160 Perkins Road, Suite 215, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
225-768-0921x202 office, kwestphal@audubon.org
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