The results are in and the fourth annual Hendershot Birdapalooza at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe, Louisiana was the most successful to date. We ended the day (6.5 hrs.) with 66 species.
The success was due, in no small part, to the fact that we had help from two experienced local birders. If you are traveling somewhere to bird there is no substitute for local knowledge. And birders are generally quite accommodating and willing to help out of town birders.
As is my habit, I began perusing the Louisiana birding listserv a couple of weeks prior to departing for Black Bayou. I noticed one birder, Steve Pagans, was doing a lot of surveys in the Monroe and Bastrop areas. When I saw that he had found federally endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers near Bastrop, where my brother and I would be staying, I contacted him and asked for directions, which he provided.
In the “it’s a small birder-world” department, my brother also contacted Pagans. To their surprise they found that they had met before at Red Slough Wildlife Management Area in southeastern Oklahoma, where my brother, Ford, sometimes assists with birding and/or natural history programs.
Steve and birding partner, Joan Brown, who had also been to Red Slough, took time from their busy birding schedule — they are compiling winter quad reports for Louisiana State University — to meet us around 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the visitor’s center at Black Bayou.
They spent the better part of the morning birding with us, which was beneficial on two levels. First, the more eyes and ears the better when you’re conducting a whirlwind tour like we were at Black Bayou. And secondly, with their knowledge of Black Bayou they could direct us to the birdier spots.
We want to express our gratitude to Steve and Joan for taking the time from their quad surveys to join us at Black Bayou. Especially, thank you for calling us with the loggerhead shrike you saw as you were exiting the refuge — it was the only one for the day.
There were misses as there always are on these one-day affairs. I believe this was the first year that we failed to see a hairy woodpecker. But the first-time species more than made up for the misses. Our firsts for the fourth annual Birdapalooza included Eurasian collared-dove, great-horned owl, purple martin, palm warbler (25) and anhinga.
The Birdapalooza is always a fun trip. The opportunity to visit friends and family is always worth it, even if birding conditions are lousy as they have sometimes been. But this trip, the weather was great — a little cool and windy at the start but clear skies and mild temps. Plus we got to make two new birding friends. Thanks again to Steve and Joan.