Security by Stupidity

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Yesterday I went through the airport security lines for the second time since the new no liquids, no gels rules were imposed; and I learned something new. Not only can you go through with four 3.5 oz bottles of liquid but not one 12 ounce bottle. It doesn’t actually matter how much liquid is in the bottle, only what it says on the side of the bottle.

You can walk right through with six ounces of liquid in a bottle that’s labeled as three ounces, but Lord help you if you try to go through with a half full, four ounce bottle. Furthermore you can still buy 20oz bottles of water and Diet Coke on the other side of the checkpoint so someone is able to get cases of liquids through. Yeah, this makes so much sense.

A Real Christmas Bird Count in Metairie

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Christmas morning I decided to do a little unofficial bird counting before most of my family woke up for the usual festivities. I didn’t go anywhere special, just made a loop through my Old Metairie neighborhood. My family swears there’s nothing to see out there, just House Sparrows, Blue Jays, and Mockingbirds; but they really aren’t paying attention. There’s a lot more when you look.

I have a regular three mile circle route that takes me up Homestead Ave. to Metairie Playground, around the playground, up the railroad tracks to the 17th Street Canal, down the Canal to where it meets the Canal Street canal; down Canal Street to the I-10 service road, and down the service road back to Homestead Ave. It takes about two hours to follow, and takes me through as varied a habitat as you can expect in suburbia.

One thing that always surprises me when I do this is how few other people are doing it too. Nobody in this town walks anywhere. Getting from the far end of the Lakeside Shopping Center parking lot to Dillard’s is considered a major hike. Yesterday I passed two joggers and no one else on the entire three-mile, two hour excursion. Yes, it was early on Christmas morning, but that’s about par for the course even on a beautiful Spring afternoon.

My goal was to find at least one species I had not previously seen in the neighborhood. That proved a little too unambitious since in the first half block between my parents’ house and Homer Street I found two: Ring-billed Gull and Yellow-rumped Warbler. I also ticked off some of the usuals: Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, and Northern Mockingbird.

#365: White-winged Dove

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Abita Amber packs a little more of a kick than I remembered, so yesterday after a beer and cheese fries lunch at Cooter Browns I decided to take a stroll around Audubon Park rather driving straight home. Lucky I did because I finally found five White-winged Doves flitting around in one of the Live Oaks near the Audubon Institute.

White-winged Dove, Audubon Park

I’d been looking for these repeatedly in the Uptown streets without any success, despite fairly precise directions as to where they were likely to be found. This is probably the last life bird I’ll pick up this trip and likely this year, unless something really weird shows up in Prospect Park this weekend.

#364: Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Yesterday I took a very brief jaunt to Audubon Park where I was informed Black-bellied Whisting Ducks could be easily found. I didn’t find the 1000+ flock I was promised (Maybe they’d flown off to feed somewhere else, or I didn’t hit the right pond?) but I did find these seven:

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

#360-363 on the New Orleans CBC

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Saturday I joined David Muth, my brother Tommy Harold, and about a dozen others for the New Orleans Christmas Bird Count. Over the course of the day, the various teams tallied up 139 species, including four personal life birds and a state first record.

We met at 6:00 A.M. at the McDonald’s off the Reed Blvd. I-10 exit (New Orleans East for non-locals) to divide up areas and arrange teams. McDonald’s wasn’t open because their computers were down, but they let us in to organize matters anyway. We were a little short handed because one team leader was stuck in Colorado due to the Denver airport mess. Tommy and I joined up with count leader David Muth to cover Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge and areas west to about Lakefront Airport.

We started the morning at Seabrook Bridge just before 7:00. David knew this as the most reliable place to find Caspian Tern and Black Skimmer, though we had to get there early before they took off hunting breakfast. We found 5 Caspian Terns (my first life bird of the day), 20 Black Skimmers, and 1 Royal Tern. We also tallied 50 Ring-billed Gulls, 5 Herring Gulls, 2 Brown Pelicans, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 1 Great Blue Heron, 85 American Coots, 102 Laughing Gulls, and several Double-crested Cormorants. (Aside from the singletons, numbers are best estimates. Birds kept flying in and out making it hard to get a perfect count.)

Brown Pelicans, American Coots


Gulf Fritillary

Monday, December 25th, 2006

A little treat for Gurnenthar’s Ascendance. Here’s a non-avian I spotted Saturday on the New Orleans Christmas Bird Count:

Gulf Fritillary

Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, 2006-12-23