March 1, 2014 Moving Day

Red shouldered hawks
Red shouldered hawks

Red-shouldered Hawks at Bayou Segnette S.P.

Waking up early, I started packing stuff away in the Rv for today’s move on to Florida for my “citizenship” run. As soon as the sun broke the horizon, I hopped in the car and took a last run around the park hoping to still get some decent wood duck shots and to follow up on the red shouldered hawks I found yesterday.

Woodies hanging around the house
Woodies hanging around the house

As always, just click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Once again, the woodies are just too darn alert and finicky to get anything decent, I have to find some place where I can get a little closer to these colorful guys.

Red shouldered hawks
Red shouldered hawks

It went a little better with the nesting, and mating, red shouldered hawks.

Red shouldered hawks
Red shouldered hawks

 

Making little hawks
Making little hawks
Red shouldered hawk ready for takeoff
Red shouldered hawk
Red shouldered hawk ready for takeoff
Ready for takeoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I probably spent another hour or more watching them come and go with nesting twigs, hunt for lizards, survey their territory from the treetops, and, yes, even do what it takes to produce little red shouldered hawks.

New Orleans to Milton, Florida

Reluctantly, around 10 AM I forced myself to leave the hawks and go back to the campsite and load the Prius on the dolly and depart Bayou Segnette State Park for Florida.

Mardi Gras Floats
Mardi Gras Floats

As I was heading east on Business Route 90 just outside the park, I could see traffic backed up forever in the opposite direction. The cause…. several floats making their way towards the city to have their finishing touches applied for Mardi Gras, just the thing I wanted to avoid. The traffic was backed up solid in all three lanes for almost two miles, glad I am heading east, not west.

Crossed over the Mississippi River and joined up with I-10 East which will take me all the way to my Florida destination, the KOA in Milton, Florida, located right at Exit 31 on I-10. Clear sailing, all the way, or so I thought!

Mississippi Mardi Gras floats
Mississippi Mardi Gras floats

 

Mississippi Mardi Gras floats
Mississippi Mardi Gras floats

Turns out, apparently a lot of other towns around here have their own Mardi Gras celebrations. as I discovered just as I approached the Louisiana and Mississippi border on I-10 and suddenly traffic stopped with no reason visible ahead as far as I could see. From a dead stop, we slowly started crawling forward at about 10 MPH…for miles!

Mississippi Mardi Gras floats
Mississippi Mardi Gras floats

 

Mississippi Mardi Gras floats
Mississippi Mardi Gras floats

 

Mississippi Mardi Gras floats
Mississippi Mardi Gras floats

After about half an hour of this, I could finally see the reason for the backup, not an accident or construction as I assumed, but a line of Mardi Gras floats heading east on the interstate. Colorful and certainly unusual, but kind of frustrating on an Interstate.

Mobile Alabama
Mobile Alabama

Once past them, it really was clear sailing all the way to Mobile, Alabama and it’s surprising, to me anyway, skyline. From there, just a short run and I arrived at the Milton KOA around 3 PM. This is definitely a nicely kept, well run campground, mostly full of seasonal units and located directly next to I-10, also a little pricey to me, as all KOA’s seem to be, $44/night for a grass site with water and 50 amp electric. I chose this campground for the convenience of it’s location and also because everything else anywhere around here was full!

 

Woodies hanging around the house
Woodies hanging around the house
Red shouldered hawk
Red shouldered hawk
Red shouldered hawks
Red shouldered hawks

 

 

February 28, 2014 New Orleans

Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material
Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material

Red-shouldered Hawks and Woodies

A welcome change of pace this morning when I was greeted with clear skies and cool temps, a second straight day of nice weather!

Click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

I went looking for wood ducks first thing and found several pairs drifting around just offshore from their nesting boxes on the shores of the large pond in the middle of the park.

Wood duck drake
Wood duck drake

I got one quick shot of this drake on top of his nesting box just before he flew off. I just can’t get close enough to these guys to get any decent shots. They are without a doubt, the easiest to spook ducks I have run across.

Wood duck drake
Wood duck drake

As I circled the park, I came across a beautiful hawk on the ground standing over some small prey he had caught. When I stopped for a shot, of course he took off. Just a beautiful bird that at that moment I could not identify. Circling around to see if I could relocate him, I saw some motion in the trees above me and noticed the beginnings of a nest in the bare trees above me. I decided to stop, pull out the tripod, and the rocking chair, and wait to see if the nest and the hawks might be related.

Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material
Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material
Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material
Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material
Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material
Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material
Red shouldered hawk gathering nest material

Soon after, first one, then another, red-shouldered hawk flew over carrying twigs to the nest I had spotted. Though there were too many branches in the way to get any good shots of them on the nest, I was able to get several half decent shots of them coming and going.

Red shouldered hawks
Red shouldered hawks

Also was able to get them sitting on their favorite perch high up in a dead tree 100 feet or so from their nest.

Little blue heron
Little blue heron

While I was shooting the hawks, this little blue heron flew in and landed on the bridge railing only a short distance from me. Even though I plan to depart the park for Florida tomorrow morning, I will have to come back out here before I do, weather permitting, this hawk nesting site has some great possibilities!

February 27, 2014 New Orleans

 

 

Wood duck in flight
Wood duck in flight

At Long Last Some Sun…and Wood Ducks

Woke up to chilly temps and clear skies, finally a break from the rain. As I headed out of the park very early this morning, I thought I saw some wood ducks feeding in the shallows of one of the canals along the park entrance road. Since I have unsuccessfully been trying to get a shot of these guys for more than two years, I looked for a spot where I could find some cover to wait for them to come within range. I walked along the edge of the woods, actually after days of heavy rain, it was more like I waded along the edge of the woods, to a spot where I was mostly concealed from their view and waited.

Geesh, these guys are wary, the second I moved the tripod, even though I thought I was out of their line of sight, off they went. I was able to get a couple useable shots, though not what I hoped I might get. If it’s not raining, I’ll be here to try again tomorrow.

Wood duck in flight
Wood duck in flight
Wood duck in flight
Wood duck in flight

 

 

 

 

 

Not wanting to waste a nice day, I continued out of the park and figured I would just wander and look for back roads and wetlands, not terribly hard to find around this part of the country.

Redhead Pair resting
Redhead Pair resting

I stumbled on a farmer’s pond on a back road west of New Orleans and got this shot of a pair of  Redheads and some unidentified, but darn colorful rooster.

A shady rooster
A shady rooster

Also found a fulvous whistling duck out on it’s own, no others around, kind of odd.

Fulvous whistling duck
Fulvous whistling duck
Fulvous whistling duck
Fulvous whistling duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another duck I have never seen before, I believe this is a white cheeked pintail.

White cheeked pintail
White cheeked pintail

And then there is this mystery duck, in with a few cinnamon teal and some redheads, again one I have never seen, and can’t find in my bird books, if anyone can ID it, I would like to know who he is.

Mystery duck
Mystery duck

Finally made it back to Bayou Segnette State Park around 5, I had hoped to avoid the rush hour traffic since the city drivers seem to enjoy playing demolition derby on the roads down here. This campground is kind of neat, being only half a mile from one of the major arteries around New Orleans, yet feeling like you are out in the wilderness once you make it back to your campsite.  Here’s hoping today’s weather is not an isolated incident!