December 6, 2013 – Plover Survey

Dredge and Rainey Report
Plover Survey

December 06, 2013

Summary of accomplishments:

  • No dredging
  • Shorebird Survey
  • Dredge maintenance – installed replacement winch for right traveling cable

This document can be downloaded as a pdf by clicking on the download button: 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 – Plover Survey

It was a foggy drive through southwest Louisiana and Timmy met me at the boat ramp at 8:30. On the way in to the Sanctuary, Timmy drove through the Coles Bayou area canals to survey levee condition and look for breaches and water control structures for our GIS database.

We also stopped by the dredge site to check on conditions and acquire updated photography. No matter what the waterlevel, we always have birds in the marsh creation site. Today it was Yellow-legs and Black-necked stilts that flushed from the shallow pond.

Figure 1. A flock of Black-necked Stilts flushed from the marsh creation site as we approached.

Figure 2. Taking the 4-wheeler to the beach.

As soon as I unloaded my gear at the headquarters, we loaded up the 4-wheeler and cart and went to the beach to count shorebirds. A thick sea-fog kept rolling in and out all day. Although we count all the birds we see along our 9-mile long beach, we keep a special lookout for plovers since some of the species are experiencing survival challenges. On this trip we counted 9 Piping Plovers on the West Rainey Beach, and 39 behind the breakwaters on the East Rainey Beach.

Figure 3. A thick sea-fog rolled in and out on us all day. Some of the more picturesque parts of the beach are around the cheniers, where erosion has claimed some of the ancient oak trees.

Figure 5. A group of small shorebirds including Piping Plover, Semi-palmated Plover, and Sanderlings.

Figure 6. Black-bellied Plovers (left) and Royal Terns (right) enjoy the view from the top of the breakwater.

Figure 7. Occasionally, we come across birds that don't survive for one reason or another. This juvenile pelican had been banded on Breton Island, all the way to the east of Louisiana. No cause of death could be determined.

Figure 8. We got excited over another flock of small birds, but they turned out to be Sanderlings and Dunlins.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The next morning promised another foggy day, so we both used it to catch up on reports, do a bit of data crunching, and submit our eBird data from yesterday. We noticed a marsh fire to our southwest, probably in the south Christian Marsh area.

Figure 9. Marsh fire south of Christian Marsh.

When the inside work was done, we went to the dredge to put the new winch on the right traveling cable that had died last fall. As soon as the battery box was opened, wasps poured out, and I ran to the back of the barge, leaving Timmy to convince them to vacate (I am borderline allergic). I did return to help him bolt the new unit into place.

Before we could run the pump and test the system, we needed to add more hydraulic oil. Timmy left me armed with wasp spray while he went back to house to get some. After adding hydraulic oil to unit, we ran the pump for 45 minutes.

On earlier trips to the marsh creation site on the pond side, we had noticed scat on our boardwalk. To see what is in the area, Timmy installed a trail cam on dredge walkway. This should be interesting.

Figure 10. Working on the dredge is always an adventure. Timmy installed the winch, in spite of a wasp infestation, and we ran the pump for a while to make sure it all works. Left to right: Timmy installing the winch, dead wasps, new winch installed, testing the pump

Figure 11. Coyote or bobcat scat on our walkway, and nice lighting from an overcast and foggy December day.


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