Sherburne Wildlife Management Area is spread out over an area just west of Baton Rouge Louisiana. It was well written of on the See Jane Bird list of birding locations, and had generated a few trip reports on eBird and the Louisiana listserve in the weeks leading up to my trip.
I headed out from New Orleans before daylight, and was impressed at the miles of elevated roadway outside the city. I was also impressed by how humid and hot it was in the predawn hour. The vastness of the swampland was something that I academically understood to be fact, but it still hit me as I drove along.
I missed sunrise, and struggled with lens fog the first few minutes after my arrival, but was all set to begin getting shots just after seven. Shortly after the White Ibis became apparent - there were many - I caught this Yellow-crowned Night Heron on the wing. Note the white cheek patch that extends behind the eye.
Next up, an Anhinga. It was busy working on something on a perch above the lilies. I had a good long look at the bird but was a ways distant across the water. I would have liked to get a better look at those feet. Still, another great bird, and so fun to see large sized lifers that were easy to identify.
Just when I was beginning to think it would be difficult to find any other new, large birds at close range to take pictures of.....I walked up on this Tricolored Heron. I was just becoming frustrated by the bright direct sun on this bird's light breast, when I caught movement in the trees beyond.....
There I spotted a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. That is a bird that is uncommon, but readily found across the eastern portion of Colorado. I guess I will just have to look harder here.
The Cuckoo and Tricolored Heron marked my furthest point into the area, (near a machine shed beyond the restrooms), and I turned back as the sun rose. My time in the South Farm area wasn't over, a detour on my return walk yielded many pictures, which included the White Ibis and Black-necked Stilt pictures from the previous post....but more on that later. Skipping ahead, once it had become prohibitively warm and most of the birds had dispersed out for the shade and security of the forest or were just foraging one by one, I headed back for the car. While sweat soaked, it was only mid-morning, and I was still eager for more. Just down the Interstate, a junction with Whiskey Bay Road featured a 17 mile stretch through the larger section of Sherburne, before connecting with a state highway that would loop me back to Baton Rouge.
The road started through a series of riverside cabins, which would make an appealing weekend getaway for the summer months down there. Just as I was getting started I spotted a likely bird on a dead snag above the riverbank. I got a good series of shots, but they were distant and in bright light. Do you know what I had found?
A Mississippi Kite! This is another bird that breeds in Eastern Colorado, but which I have not previously been able to track down. This one moved back and forth between two perches, giving me ample opportunity to get the best shots that circumstances would allow.
After all these great birds, and more (stay tuned), I was ready to complete my loop grab some lunch and get back to the city, my hotel, and bed. I did have one last adventure in store. As I headed down the on ramp to the state highway I found a police cruiser blocking the road, and saw another diverting traffic from the highway off the exit ramp. I looped under the bridge, dug out my map and found another road headed back to the south (Interstate) on the far side of the river. By the time I had my new route I had several other car drivers asking if they could follow me. Somehow we all ended up on the road south, which deteriorated from a nice paved two lane highway... to a nice gravel road... to a split where presumably the oncoming traffic was driving along the top of the levee to our left while we drove along a narrow dirt track at its base.....past someone's full exhaust system lying in the road gulp (Dave to self: "you are driving a rental car, not your 4runner, does this thing have any clearance?")... at this point we have caught other traffic on the detour, and the dust kicked up from both roads is getting thick between the walls of vegetation on either side...to a point where the road turns through some deeepish sand (Dave to self: "this is why driving a truck is always a good idea")....on and on watching taillights ahead and hoping the car behind isn't too close.....(Dave to self: Did I just hear banjo music?!!)...and out to an interstate on ramp and clear visibility travel. Louisiana, wild and full of adventure!
Several more posts to come....stay tuned!