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No. 187 BATON ROUGE, LASeptember 1999

LOS NEWS
Newsletter of the Louisiana Ornithological Society


Table of Contents

Louisiana Birds- Spring Migration 1999
July Pelagic Report
LOS Pelagics
Deserving Young Birder
LA Black Skimmers
Calidris Sandpipers
Calidris Figure 1
Calidris Figure 2
Calidris Figure 3
Calidris Figure 4
Doug Pratt Award
The Botanical Birder
Birds After Birders
LA Green Violet-ear
1999 LOS Fall Meeting
Welcome New Members
LOS Sales
Sabine Pass Lighthouse
Autumn Hawkwatch
Trans-Gulf Migration Project
Swainson's Warbler Project
LOS Officers
Membership Form

Louisiana Birds- Spring Migration 1999 (March 1-May 31)
by Steve Cardiff
[KEY: For records of species on the Louisiana Bird Records Committee Review List, full documentation has been received and the species' name is boldfaced; eventual acceptance of these records is pending evaluation by the LBRC. EB-826=Ewing Bank 826 oil platform, 61 mi. S East Timbalier Island; GB-189=Garden Banks 189 oil platform, 138 mi. S of Cameron; GC-18=Green Canyon 18 oil platform, about 70 mi. S Raccoon Point; LSUMNS=Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science; m.ob.=many observers; MOGP=Migrants Over the Gulf Project; NWR=National Wildlife Refuge; ph. (boldfaced)=recognizable photograph has been submitted; ph. (non-boldfaced)= reportedly photographed, but photo has not been submitted; SMI-147=South Marsh Island 147 oil platform, 93 mi. south of western tip Marsh Island; sp.=specimen to LSUMNS; vt.=recognizable videotape image has been submitted; WMA=Wildlife Management Area; VE-265=Vermilion 265 oil platform, 77 mi. S Pecan Island; parish names are in italics.]
 
On going efforts to increase our knowledge about seabird occurrence in the northern Gulf, through boat surveys as well as observations from MOGP oil platforms, produced mixed results this season. Somewhat surprising was a rash of early spring Audubon's Shearwaters, with two during a pelagic survey off Lafourche-Plaquemines Mar. 12 (SWC-1 sp.,DLD,DPM et al.), and a combined seven MOGP sightings Mar. 18-Apr. 13 at GB-189 (SJP), SMI-147 (RLK), and EB-826 (JRK). Masked Boobies were once again recorded regularly at some MOGP sites: thirteen sightings of fourteen individuals Mar. 30-May 8, but mainly at EB-826 and GC-18 (JRK,BPG,SJP,RLK); none were found on the Mar. 12 and Apr. 17 pelagic trips. More interesting was the report of an imm. Brown Booby at EB-826 Apr. 14 (JRK). The Mar. 12 pelagic survey tallied about 150 N. Gannets in "green" water over the shelf off Grand Isle/Grand Terre (JPK,SWC,et al.); about 20 were still off Belle Pass on the Apr. 17 LOS trip (m.ob.). Puzzling was a southbound movement of 2080 Am. White Pelicans near St. Gabriel, Iberville, Mar. 14 (SWC,DLD). An adult Neotropic Cormorant at Baton Rouge Mar. 13 (D. Arbour) was east of normal, although there are several other recent records for the nine-parish Baton Rouge area.
 
Counts of Am. Bitterns at Lacassine Pool, Cameron, peaked at 29 on Apr. 3 (JPK,et al.), an excellent total for this declining species; one offshore at VE-265 Mar. 28 (BMM) was an interesting trans-Gulf migrant, as were a imm. Reddish Egret there May 9 (BMM) and Black-crowned Night-Herons at SMI-147 on Mar. 30 and Apr. 16 (3 & 2, respectively; RLK). Roseate Spoonbills have become routine in the Port Fourchon area of Lafourche, but breeding had not been confirmed. On Apr. 17, about 75 birds, including many pairs and several nests associated with a heronry, were located along Belle Pass (SWC,DPM,PW,et al.). Two each in Natchitoches May 13 (JLI) and eastern Orleans May 22 (GO) were also suggestive of breeding range expansion.
 
"Pairs" of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in Lafourche May 22 (WRF) and May 30 (DPM,RDP), and in St. Charles May 25 (PY), and three at Sabine NWR, Cameron, Apr. 25 and May 1 (JPK,DR), provided continuing evidence that the species is colonizing new areas of southern LA. Totally unexpected (especially considering the lack of reports during the preceding winter) were two Tundra Swans over Grand Isle, Jefferson, Apr. 16 (DJL,RMG). Ninety northbound Greater White-fronted Geese near St. Gabriel Mar. 2 (JVR), provided one of few Baton Rouge area spring records. Sightings of male Cinnamon Teal in the Lacassine Pool area Mar. 15 (RLK), Mar. 29 (GG), and Apr. 24 (JPK,DR) may have involved the same bird; one spending its second winter in eastern Orleans remained to Mar. 28 (GO). A male Ring-necked Duck at Baton Rouge May 18-19 (WW) was almost certainly an unhealthy summering bird. Sixteen Greater Scaup passing EB-826 Mar 22 (JRK) represented a unique record of "late" spring trans-Gulf migration for the species. Four Surf Scoters near Johnsons Bayou, Cameron, Apr. 25 (DPM-ph.,PY), eight there Apr. 28-May 1(WRF,JPK,et al.), and a late bird there May 12 (WRF,GB) were the only scoters reported. A Bufflehead May 13 in Caddo (JLI) was quite late.
 
An Osprey nest with young near Venice, Plaquemines, May 7-29 (JPK,et al.) was indicative of gradual, local increases in the LA breeding population. Breeding White-tailed Kites were once again present at Holly Beach,Cameron, where a nest was monitored from late April through the period (JPK,et al.). Noteworthy observations of Swallow-tailed Kites included early migrants at Rockefeller Refuge, Cameron, Mar. 6 (westbound; GG) and Johnsons Bayou Mar. 12 (RLK), trans-Gulf migrants at SMI-147 Mar. 30 (RLK) and EB-826 Apr. 8 (JRK), one at Grand Isle Apr. 3 (PW,CS), and late coastal migrants at Ft. Jackson, Plaquemines, May 8 (DPM,PW) and Johnsons Bayou May 12 (WRF,GB). Evidence that Cooper's Hawks are widespread but low-density breeders in southeast LA continues to accumulate: a pair near St. Gabriel May 16 (JVR), and one near Port Fouchon May 30(DPM). A Swainson's Hawk south of Baton Rouge Apr. 20 (SWC) was well east; there are very few area spring records. A Rough-legged Hawk found in January in Natchitoches reportedly remained to Mar. 14 (fide JLI). A westbound Crested Caracara on the coast near Cameron Apr. 24 (JPK,DR) was inexplicable. A nesting pair of Am. Kestrels at Fountainbleu State Park, St. Tammany, May 2-3 (Fred Barry-ph.) provided a well-documented record from the southern edge of the breeding range. One near St. Gabriel Apr. 22 was thought to be a migrant, but was headed southeast (JVR); another late bird was seen at Bonnet Carr‚ Spillway, St. Charles, May 2 (PW). A late Peregrine Falcon was spotted in northern Vermilion May 15 (RJB,CL).
 
Among the many "odd" offshore visitors at EB-826 was an Am. Coot Mar. 24 (JRK). Thirty-five members of the "Holmwood," Calcasieu, Sandhill Crane flock remained to at least Mar. 6 (JPK). Single Snowy Plovers at Rutherford Beach near Cameron May 22 (JPK,DR) and May 28 (PW,CS) were very late and suggestive of breeding; there is only one confirmed breeding record for the LA coast. In the past there have been unconfirmed reports of American Oystercatchers breeding in Cameron, but the first well-substantiated record was established Apr. 19 (J.L.Dunn), when a pair was found attending a nest near the Hwy. 82 Sabine River bridge; many observers viewed these birds through the period (RJB,JPK,DPM,RLK); three more individuals were observed on the beach west of Johnsons Bayou Apr. 25 (DPM,PY). Single Willets on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Jefferson/Orleans Mar. 29 &30, and two there May 5, were probably migrants rather than commuting coastal breeders (PY).
 
Two Pomarine Jaegers were found over Sackett Bank off Plaquemines Mar. 11 (SWC-1 sp.,DLD,DPM,et al.). The only MOGP reports were of five individuals seen Mar. 20-28 at GB-189(SJP). One was also found onshore near Cameron Mar. 14 and Apr. 8 (RLK). At least two late Franklin's Gulls were near Cameron May 28-29 (PW,CS). An ad. Little Gull at Holly Beach Mar. 25 (Robby Bacon) was an excellent find; most of the few LA records are from this same locality. A Bonaparte's Gull at GB-189 Mar. 21-27, joined by a second bird Mar. 27 (SJP), were apparently the first MOGP records. Reports of Lesser Black-backed Gulls included an adult at SMI-147 Mar. 31 (RLK), a subadult at Fourchon Beach Apr. 3-May 2 (PW-ph.,CCK,JPK-ph.,DPM,PY), three first-year birds there May 30 (DPM-ph.,RDP), two subadults near Cameron Apr. 24 (DPM,PY), and a first-year at Venice May 9 (JPK,et al.). First-year Great Black-backed Gulls were noted near Cameron Mar. 14 (RLK) and at Fourchon Beach Apr. 2-22 (PW-ph.,CCK,CS,DJL). The highlight of a very rough Apr. 17 LOS pelagic trip out of Port Fourchon were two Kelp Gulls and a suspected Kelp X Herring hybrid among a large gull flock behind a shrimp trawler about 15 mi. SSE Belle Pass (JPS-ph.,RMG-ph.,PW-ph.,G.Payne-ph.,DPM,DLD,SWC,C. Marantz,m.ob); there are few well-documented LA records away from the Chandeleur Is. Seven Glaucous Gulls was well above-average: two wintering birds remained to Mar. 13 at a landfill in Jefferson (PY); others were offshore at SMI-147 Mar. 25 (RLK), at Grand Isle Apr. 3-16 (PW-ph.,CS,CCK), west of Johnsons Bayou Apr. 10 (2 birds; M.Weber), and near Cameron Apr. 24 (JPK-ph.,DR,PY,DPM). Also a good season's total, four Black-legged Kittiwakes were distributed at Holly Beach Mar. 13 (RLK-ph.), offshore at VE-265 Mar. 31 & Apr. 10 (BMM-ph.), at SMI-147 Apr. 11 (DP-ph.), and at GC-18 Apr. 18 (BPG-ph.). Notably early was a Common Tern at EB-826 Mar. 30-31 (JRK). An "onshore" Bridled Tern near the Hwy. 82 Sabine River bridge Apr. 24 (RJB,JPK,GS,et al.) was totally unprecedented for spring.
 
A large wintering flock of White-winged Doves in New Orleans had dwindled to 28 on Mar. 10, and the last was seen Mar. 31 (PY); two at nearby Bayou Sauvage NWR, Orleans, Apr. 24 (JOC,TDC), and 15-20 at Grand Isle Apr. 10 (DPM) may also have been winter residuals or migrants, although smaller numbers seen at Grand Isle through the period suggest breeding. Single trans-Gulf migrant White-wingeds appeared at EB-826 six times Apr. 5-May 1 (JRK), and at GB-189 Apr. 2 (SJP). Another shocker was a Long-eared Owl at Delta NWR, Plaquemines, Mar. 5 (AP,DH-ph.), one of very few well-documented LA records. A nighthawk sp. at EB-826 Mar. 24 (JRK) was very early for any species. A Chuck-will's-widow found in early February at Pass-a-Loutre WMA, Plaquemines, stayed until Mar. 5 (AP,DH). One of two wintering male Whip-poor-wills near St.Gabriel remained to Mar. 7, with the other present to Mar. 10 (DLD,SWC).
 
Some departure dates for various wintering hummingbirds: Buff-bellied-Mar. 21, New Orleans (DPM), Apr. 1, Baton Rouge (CF); Ruby-throated-Mar. 6, Mar. 7, Apr. 11, near St. Gabriel (DLD,SWC); Black-chinned-Apr. 10, Baton Rouge (CF); Calliope-Mar. 24, near St. Gabriel (SWC,DLD), Mar. 25, Apr. 4, Baton Rouge (CF), Apr. 8, Baton Rouge (MD); Broad-tailed-Mar. 7, Baton Rouge (M.Griffith). A Red-headed Woodpecker was an unusual transient (from where?) near Port Fourchon Apr. 18 (JPK,DR). A Red-bellied Woodpecker near Johnsons Bayou Mar. 6 (JPK) possibly pertained to one of several wintering birds found on the local CBC. A Pileated Woodpecker was a strange find near Ft. Jackson in lower Plaquemines May 22 (GO, D.Carroll); one at Intracoastal Park in extreme southern Calcasieu Apr. 24 (PY,DPM) was also presumably south of breeding areas.
 
An Acadian Flycatcher at Grand Isle Apr. 2 (PW,CS) was early. Up to five singing and calling Willow Flycatchers at Hackberry Ridge May 12 (WRF,GB-vt.), provided one of few well-documented records of migrant individuals on the LA coast (or anywhere in LA for that matter). Two wintering Least Flycatchers at Pass-a-Loutre WMA were present to Mar. 5 (AP). A Vermilion Flycatcher at Johnsons Bayou Apr. 3 (JPK,DR) was relatively late. Especially rare as a spring migrant, an Ash-throated Flycatcher was found near Cameron Apr. 23 (PW-ph.,CS); a wintering bird found at Delta NWR in late February was last seen Mar. 4 (AP,DH). A Great Kiskadee, a very rare visitor, was discovered at Venice Apr. 17 (Elizabeth Jeanclos-ph.). Amazingly, the (apparently solitary) bird constructed a nest on a telephone pole and was viewed by many through the end of the period (RMG-ph.,JPK-ph.,JPS). A freshly dead Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher at WC-319 off Cameron May 6 (Troy Reitan-sp.), was Louisiana's 5th and the 3rd spring record. Another perplexing offshore record of Tropical/Couch's kingbird involved a frustratingly silent bird at VE-265 on May 9 (BMM-ph.). A trans-Gulf Western Kingbird made an appearance at VE-265 May 8 (BMM); one found in southern East Baton Rouge Feb. 7 was last seen Mar. 5 (DFL,et al.). Perhaps slightly more expected as an offshore transient was a (moribund) Gray Kingbird at EB-826 Apr. 30 (JRK-sp.). Yet another unexpected trans-Gulf wanderer was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at VE-265 May 7 (BMM). East of normal mainland records included one in lower Plaquemines May 8 (DPM,PW), and one in West Feliciana May 15 (JPK,et al.).
 
A Blue-headed Vireo near Johnsons Bayou May 12 (WRF,GB) was latest-ever for LA in spring. Three Yellow-throated Vireos at Pass-a-Loutre WMA Mar. 9 (AP) were exceptionally early, as was a Warbling Vireo at Bossier City, Bossier, Mar. 27 (JLI). A Warbling Vireo in Cameron May 12 (WRF,GB) was relatively late. A suspected pair of Black-whiskered Vireos at Grand Isle May 30 (DPM-ph.,RDP) once again suggested breeding. Reports of four Black-whiskered Vireos in lower Plaquemines, Mar. 22-24, May 1, May 12, May 13 were awaiting substantiating details. A concentration of 185 N. Rough-winged Swallows in St. Charles Mar. 6 were presumably very early migrants- somewhat smaller numbers were first noted there Feb. 20 (PY). An interesting trans-Gulf Bank Swallow at EB-826 Mar. 24 (JRK) was also very early, as were six Cliff Swallows in Caddo Mar. 20 (J&JT); two Cliffs at EB-826 Mar. 30 (JRK) were slightly early and well-offshore. Cave Swallows appear to be regular breeders at the Hwy. 82 Sabine River bridge, where at least 1-2 birds were located Apr. 24 and May 1 (RJB,JPK,DR). At least two singing Tufted Titmice near Ft. Jackson May 8 (DPM,PW) indicated a probable breeding range extension into lower Plaquemines. A very infrequent visitor to southern LA, especially in late spring, a White-breasted Nuthatch visited a suet feeder in Husser, Tangipahoa, from Apr. 30 into late May (Pat Lanier,et al.).
 
Another surprise so far south was a family group of Eastern Bluebirds at Fort Jackson May 8 (DPM,PW). A Veery near St. Gabriel May 27 (DLD) was very late (especially for the Baton Rouge area), as was a Gray-cheeked Thrush on the coast at Johnsons Bayou May 29 (PW,CS). A Swainson's Thrush in New Orleans Apr. 1 (DPM) was very early. A Hermit Thrush near Ft. Jackson May 8 (DPM) was one of the latest-ever to be observed in LA, and was suspected of belonging to one of the western subspecies. Near St. Gabriel, at least two wintering American Robins lingered to Apr. 15 (SWC); presumed transients were observed flying south Apr. 20 (JVR) and northwest May 7 (SWC). A Northern Mockingbird was a bizarre inhabitant of VE-265 on Apr. 17 (SJP).
 
A male Magnolia Warbler in Cameron May 29 (PW,CS) was quite late on the coast, as was a Yellow-rumped Warbler there Apr. 30 (Don Baepler); three Yellow-rumpeds lingered in Caddo to May 8 (JLI). A Black-throated Green Warbler found at Delta NWR Feb. 17 remained to Mar. 2(AP). With only two previous state records, the last in spring 1973, the appearance of two Hermit Warblers was phenomenal. More amazing still, the season's first (a male) was well-offshore at EB-826 Apr. 15 (JRK). The second bird, also a male, was at Johnsons Bayou Apr. 28 (S.A.Gauthreaux,C. Belser,Maria & Lee Bellue-ph.,WRF-ph.,m.ob.). A Prairie Warbler at EB-826 Apr. 7 (JRK) was a noteworthy trans-Gulf migrant; another migrant at Delta NWR Apr. 2 (AP) was also suggestive of a trans-Gulf route. Palm Warblers at EB-826 Apr. 24 (JRK) and VE-265 May 12 (BMM) further validated that small numbers are trans-Gulf migrants; the latter bird was very late as well. Two male Blackpoll Warblers in Cameron May 30 (PW,CS) were late coastal stragglers. Two Black-and-white Warblers at Pass-a-Loutre WMA Mar. 9 (AP), a singing male near St. Gabriel Mar. 9 (DLD), and one at Grand Isle Mar. 13 (John Conover) were all relatively early migrants. A wintering Ovenbird in New Orleans was last seen Mar. 25 (DJL,Denise L'Hoste); of three located at Delta NWR one stayed to Mar. 1, and the other two until Mar. 5 (AP). A wintering Wilson's Warbler near St. Gabriel remained to 13 Mar. (DLD,SWC), and one in Jefferson Apr. 4 (PY) was also a probable lingering winterer; one in Cameron May 12 (WRF,GB) was a relatively late, rare spring migrant. A wintering Yellow-breasted Chat at Delta NWR was present to Mar. 5 (DH,AP); one at EB-826 Mar. 30 (JRK) was an early migrant.
 
A male Summer Tanager, back for its fourth or fifth winter in Baton Rouge, remained to Mar. 9 (Janie & Coney Barr‚-ph.); one at Shreveport Mar. 10 (JT) was very early for a migrant, having more likely wintered in the region. An early male Scarlet Tanager was at Grand Isle Apr. 2 (PW,CS). A Western Tanager present at Reserve since early February remained to Mar. 4 (Ron Stein). An Eastern Towhee at Sabine NWR nature trail Apr. 24 (JLI) was unusually late for the coast. Interesting reports of Savannah Sparrows included one headed southeast past SMI-147 Mar. 20 (RLK), and one-two late individuals on the Bucktown lakefront, Jefferson, May 14 (PY). A Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Grand Isle Apr. 3 (PW,CS) was very early, especially for a female. Seven different Indigo Buntings noted near St. Gabriel during the period Feb. 6-Mar. 26 (SWC,DLD,JVR) were thought to have definitely or likely wintered in the area. A wintering male Painted Bunting in Baton Rouge remained to Apr. 6 (Jeanell Strickland,et al.), and a female near St. Gabriel lingered to Mar. 9 (SWC,DLD).
 
A Yellow-headed Blackbird at EB-826 Apr. 23 (JRK) provided more evidence of a limited trans-Gulf movement by this species; 27 in Caddo May 8 (JLI) was an excellent LA count. A male Great-tailed Grackle in Natchitoches May 13, had been joined by a female May 27 (JLI); there are still very few records outside southwest LA. A male Shiny Cowbird was well-described at Grand Isle Apr. 16 (DJL,RMG); 1-2 have been reported there almost annually in recent years. Farther west, where there are many fewer records, a first-year male near Cameron became Louisiana's first specimen Apr. 30 (SWC,DLD). Louisiana's third or fourth Hooded Oriole, continuing from early February, visited a Baton Rouge hummingbird feeder until Mar. 23 (A. DeBosier-ph.-vt.,G. Strickland-vt.,SWC-ph.,DLD,et al.). Reports of lingering American Goldfinches included 1-2 males near St. Gabriel May 5-14 (SWC,DLD,JVR).
 
Initialled observers: Roger J. Breedlove, Gary Broussard, Steven W. Cardiff, Jennifer O. Coulson, Tom D. Coulson, Donna L. Dittmann, Carol Foil, William R. Fontenot, Brian P. Gibbons, Gay Gomez, R. Martin Guidry, Daniel Harrington, James L. Ingold, Cecil C. Kersting, Jon R. King, Joseph P.Kleiman, Richard L. Knight, Daniel F. Lane, David J. L'Hoste, Charles Lyon, David P. Muth, B. Mac Myers, Glenn Ousset, Arvind Panjabi, Dave Patton, Stacy J. Peterson, R. D. Purrington, J. V. Remsen, Dave Roark, John P. Sevenair, Curt Sorrells, Gayle Strickland, Jeff Trahan, Jean Trahan, Phillip Wallace, Walker Wilson, Peter Yaukey.
Table of Contents

LOS Pelagic (Apologia pro vita sua)
by David Muth
As you have already heard, the LOS Pelagic Trip of Saturday, July 17 did not exactly rewrite the record books. Inasmuch as I was the "trip leader" (which I now realize was a set-up), I will here give some account of the trip. We will eventually post a trip log, for what it is worth.
 
We departed on a very comfortable Tomeny Charter boat (The Carribean Sea) via Belle Pass, the mouth of Bayou Lafourche, and struck a course for the head of the Mississippi Canyon (SSE). We hit very nice green water fairly quickly, in which we encountered a few Black and Common terns, as well as the usual suspects. There was good fish activity in green water, but no mammalian activity. The water got progressively bluer, and we eventually passed into real blue green water, which was thick with drift rows of sargassum--a good sign, we thought. We came upon some Black Terns feeding over a shoal of ravenous fish (Hardtails and Bonito??). We laid down the mother of all chum slicks, using fish culled from a shrimp trawl supplied by Tomeny, menhaden oil supplied by Hemeter, tuna parts supplied by Carol Foil, offal from the Dittmann/Cardiff kitchen, and a patented recipe from yours truly. We laid the slick in a broad circle, and we circled. And circled. And circled. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.
 
When we got over the Miss. Canyon, we took a more easterly course, making for deep water. When we got as far southeast as we could go with our time/distance restraints (about 35 miles s. of SW Pass in 3000+ feet of water), we laid down the GRANDMOTHER of all chum slicks. We circled. And circled. And then, we circled some more. And circled. And circled. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.
 
We then headed mostly north, hoping to find a rip line. A lone tern, our first, only, and last Bridled Tern, rocketed past, well off our port. We stopped, and watched it disappear southward: unchaseable. Apologies to those on board who needed Bridled Tern, but this one did not cooperate. Approaching a big thunderhead, we saw a group of frigatebirds circling, and thought, this is it! As we came up on the frigates (and the first raindrops), young, handsome Paul Conover, called out a "probable storm petrel." We stopped, and laid down the great-grandmother of all chum slicks. We circled. And circled. And then, we circled some more. And circled. And circled. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Except that one of the frigatebirds came in, picked up a morsel we'd offered. And spit it out.
 
We then headed toward the Midnight Lumps, or Sackett Banks, an interesting structure -- a sea hill within the Miss. Canyon. We found a blue-blue rip with good sargassum, and a large number of frigates and Royal Terns, a few blacks. Great views of cooperative frigates. We laid down the Great-Great-Grandmother of all chum slicks. But you've heard this story....
 
Then, we came back in, crossing a finger of green water, pluming out of sw pass, then blue, then green, then brown and Belle Pass.
 
A few observations: This was virtually the same route traversed two weeks earlier on an LSUMZ expedition, a scouting trip, in effect. On that day, every time we stopped and chummed Wilson's Storm-Petrels appeared almost instantaneously.We also got a Leach's, and another Oceanodroma that was variously thought to be Leach's or Band-rumped. We also had several Bridled Terns. (AND we had a small, all-dark procellarid that just possibly might have been--coulda been, mighta been, shoulda been--the gulf's first Bulwer's Petrel; but hey, you did not hear that from me). We also had TWO pods of incredible and cooperative Risso's Dolphins!!
 
But Saturday, we were completely skunked. One distant fly-by Bridled Tern. Paul's possible storm-petrel, and a few other possible birds. A couple of glimpses of possible cetaceans, none of which materialized.
 
Bizzarre. One thing I can say: we were in the same places, but different waters. On July 1, green water was full of Sargassum, but blue water was devoid of it. On July 17, green water had no sargassum, but in blue water there was as much as I've seen, though concentrated in specific areas, with large expanses of clean water. We had pretty good signs of fish life throughout, including good numbers of small flying fish, and, near the rips, sargassum, and blue-green interfaces, a large number of hardtails and small "tuna"=bonita??
 
The northern gulf remains a complete mystery. Sorry to those aboard, but we did our best. I did not hear about the possible Sooty Tern until we were coming in, but none of the leaders saw it or were told about it (unless it was the Bridled that bombed past). But we thought, given our success July 1, that chumming would at least produce storm-petrels. Not even a pod of dolphins!! Oh well. However, I would not give up yet...
 
By the way, I am not superstitious, and do not believe in mystical, vaguely eastern nonsense, like "kharma." However, rocket scientists and other rational folk will agree that the appearance of a Green Violet-Ear a few days before did not help this trip. Worse, the fact that Charlie Lyon was on the pelagic trip created a bad juxtaposition of cosmic forces. After all, a person who slept till 11:00 a.m. in Shreveport (despite a canard about performing an operation that morning!), then got up and drove to Lafayette in time to see that wretched hummer, can not have a good follow-up pelagic trip. This would cause irreparable perturbations in the space-time continuum.
 
So, the blame for this trip lies squarely with Dr. Lyon. I did not go see that hummingbird!
 
David Muth
The Once and (NOT) Future Pelagic Trip Leader
New Orleans
Mon, 19 Jul 1999
Table of Contents

Deserving Young Birder Sought
An anonymous donor has reserved a space on the November 6th LOS pelagic trip for a "deserving young birder." Please send nominations as soon as possible to Donna L. Dittmann at: ddittma@unix1.sncc.lsu.edu. The definition of "deserving young birder" is rather vague, but would include any avid birder up to undergraduate and graduate level college students. Prior to submitting names, please confirm with your nominee that he or she is actually available and interested in going on a day-long ocean cruise.
Table of Contents

Louisiana Black Skimmer Colonies Sought

Dr. Fred Groves, at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe would like to hear about any sandbar Black Skimmer colonies that might be within a day's drive of Monroe. Dr. Groves would like to continue doing some observational research similar to what he did in the 70's in Florida. Here is an excerpt from an article he published in Florida Field Naturalist, Inedible Objects Offered During Courtship Feeding by Black Skimmers.
 
Male Black Skimmers, Rynchops niger, sometimes offer the female a food item such as a fish or shrimp during courtship (Pettingill, 1937, Welty, 1976, Burger and Gochfeld. 1990). Burger and Gochfeld (1990) further noted that the female swallows the fish after copulation. During observations of skimmer courtship in Florida , I observed that copulation ends when the female swallows the food item, and that sometimes an inedible object is offered instead of an edible one. Also, I noticed that use of inedible objects extended copulation time significantly.
 
If you had the opportunity to observe any skimmer colonies on river sanbars this smmer, please contact Dr. Groves at NLU EdGroves@alpha.nlu.edu.
Table of ContentsLOS NEWS, Page 2
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LOS News Editor: Carol Foil, 1180 Stanford Ave, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
(h & fax) 225.387.0368; (w) 225.346.3119;
foil@vt8200.vetmet.lsu.edu

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posted 01June1999