Sandhill Crane Field Trip to Area Near Alexandria Led by Jim Ingold

February 18, 2017

Text by Larry R. Raymond

            Nine participants (Dr. Jim Ingold, leader; Brittany Davis, Martha Lennard, John McBride, Jr., Ulysses Ortiz, Larry Raymond, Sandy Roerig, Rosemary Seidler, and Mark Wilson) met at the LSUS Museum of Life Sciences parking lot at 0730 hrs, eager to get to Cheneyville to see Sandhill Crane.  While waiting for everyone to arrive, we checked off Ring-billed Gull (1); American Robin (1); European Starling (8); Northern Cardinal (2); and, House Sparrow (1).

            Heading south on I-49 out of Shreveport, John McBride spotted a probable adult Bald Eagle.  He noted the white head and dark body, but didnít see the tail.  We also noted Great Egret (2) and American Crow (2).  We didnít attempt to identify the ducks we passed at 75 mph.

            First stop was the MacDonaldís in Natchitoches.  Larry recorded Fish Crow (6) and Northern Mockingbird (1) here before we were off again.   We began serious birding around 1015 hrs.  We started on C C Rd to Chickamaw Rd back to U.S. 71, then to LA 456, to Feed Mill Rd to LA 470 back to U.S. 71 to Lecompte, about 13 miles by vehicle.  It was overcast, wind SE at 5 mph, temperature 59 F to 60 F.  On Chickamaw Rd, just south of C C Rd, we had a large flock of geese, estimated at 11,000, in a cattle pasture.  Everyone got good looks at both morphs of Snow Goose, and a few Rossí Goose were spotted. 

            From here, Jim led us, via a circuitous path to Feed Mill Rd and LA 470.  Sharp-eyed Martha Lennard made Sandy stop so she could take a closer look at a field and eventually picked out 5 Sandhill Crane.  Everyone got good looks and enjoyed watching as two of the cranes took flight.  Jim pointed out the flight posture with necks outstretched.

            We finished this route at 1130 hrs and recorded Snow Goose (10,000 white morph; 1,000 blue morph); Rossí Goose 10; Wood Duck            5 (3 male, 2 female); Turkey Vulture 1; Red-tailed Hawk 1;           American Kestrel 3; Sandhill Crane 5; Killdeer 1; Eurasian Collared-Dove 4; Mourning Dove 8; Red-bellied Woodpecker 1; Eastern Phoebe 1; Loggerhead Shrike 2; Blue Jay 3;

American Crow 6; Tufted Titmouse 2; Carolina Wren 1; Eastern Bluebird 5; American Robin 2; Northern Mockingbird 4; European Starling 5; Yellow-rumped Warbler 1; Savannah Sparrow 10; Red-winged Blackbird 13; Common Grackle 85; American Goldfinch 3.

            From here, we headed to Bayou Rd and birded Bayou Rd to the end of Cheneyville Echo Rd (10.7 mi. by vehicle) from 1145 hrs until 1345 hrs.  Skies remained overcast with winds variable at 3 mph.  The temperature ranged from 62 F to 64 F.  Among the birds recorded on this stretch was a banded Whooping Crane.  Jim sent the band sequence to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries who responded that the crane is 3-year-old female, L5-14.  Up to now, she had been spending her time in Jefferson Davis Parish. 

            Birds reported on this leg of the trip included Greater White-fronted Goose 45; Snow Goose      2025; Rossí Goose 3; Wood Duck 2; Gadwall 24; American Wigeon 4; Mallard 320; Northern Shoveler 1340; Northern Pintail 4150; Green-winged Teal 500; Hooded Merganser 2 (2 male); duck sp. 400; Double-crested Cormorant 22; Great Blue Heron 3; Great Egret 3; Tricolored Heron 1; White Ibis 100; White-faced Ibis 20; Turkey Vulture 1; Bald Eagle 2 imm.; Northern Harrier 2 (2 female); Red-shouldered Hawk 1 (spotted by Jim); Red-tailed Hawk             2; American Kestrel 1; American Coot 12; Whooping Crane 1; Killdeer 3; Greater Yellowlegs 30; Long-billed Dowitcher 120; Black-necked Stilt 30; Mourning Dove 4; Barred Owl 1; Belted Kingfisher 1; Red-bellied Woodpecker 1: Downy Woodpecker 1: Northern Flicker 2; Eastern Phoebe 2; Loggerhead Shrike 3; American Crow 3; Carolina Chickadee 1; Carolina Wren 2; Marsh Wren     1: Northern Mockingbird 3; European Starling 5;         Northern Cardinal 1; Red-winged Blackbird 100; and, American Goldfinch 3.

            Jim then led us to Leaís in Lecompte and everyone went their separate ways from there.  On the way back, John McBride added Rock Pigeon 100 (I-49 at Alexandria); Ring-necked Duck 10; and Black Vulture   2 along I-49 headed back to Shreveport. 

            Total species count = 62, counting the Whooping Crane.  Kudos to Jim for a great field trip!

Sandhill Crane Field Trip: Photo by Larry Raymond.  February 18, 2017
Sandhill Crane Field Trip 
Sandhill Crane Field Trip: Photo by Larry Raymond, February 18, 2017
Sandhill Crane Field Trip 
February 18, 2017.  Highlight of the trip was the observation of  a Whooping Crane.  Photo by Rosemary Seidler.
Whooping Crane