Right before I left NJ, I threw out an email to a birdingpal from New Orleans. I have not been successful with using this service in the past, but 2 people told me that have connected with someone and got great advice. So, what the heck. When I arrived in the city I wandered through the French Quarter to get my bearings and was welcomed by the chittering of chimney swifts. Ah, I remember the swifts. Once long ago, on my first trip to New Orleans, I was amazed by the swifts. They darted above and between the historic rooftops and galleries of the French Quarter. I remember sitting in a rooftop lounge drinking crisp white wine and watching the swirl of their antics and not paying much attention to the conversation swirling about me. I smiled. If nothing else, New Orleans has swifts. A first of the season for me.
But birdingpal came through. I received a lovely email with several options within an easy streetcar ride since I had no car. She recommended Audubon Park and City Park. Audubon Park is on the St. Charles Street line and has a 1.7 mile jogging/biking loop. On an island in the middle of the water on the left is a heron rookery. The trip to the park was a major time commitment though. The concierge at the hotel said it would take 45 minutes to get there—plus walking the loop and getting back. I was looking at 3 hours- minimum. City Park, on the other hand, is on the Canal Street line. It takes only 30 minutes to get there. I could wander around, come back when I needed. I opted for City Park for expediency’s sake even though it was a warm muggy afternoon.
The Canal Street stop for the streetcar is on the median outside the hotel. I hopped on, slid in my dollar and dropped the quarter in the slot. I sat on the beautiful wooden seat. A lovely warm breeze blew in through the open window. The car clattered forward with a merry clang of its bell. People got on and off as we left the city and headed toward Metarie.
I got off at the last stop, City Park, outside the museum. The first thing I heard when I crossed the busy intersection and walked into the park was the distinctive call of boat-tailed grackles. I wandered off the sidewalk in the direction of a creek flowing in the distance. A cattle egret eyed me warily as I approach the water, flying off a few steps. A flicker of white caught my eye; I spun to watch a least tern dive headlong into the still brown water. Then a common tern dashed past. I could really see the size difference. Along the far bank I saw the stately white of an egret. I walked along the bank A harsh squawk out from the reeds stepped a yellow-crowned nightheron. It watched me, gave an almost shrug with a ruffle of its feathers and started to pick in the grass. Apparently finding nothing of interest it flew off.
I got 23 species in all: Laughing Gull, Mockingbird, Monk parakeets, Least Tern, Common Tern, White Ibis, Brown Pelican, Tri-colored Heron (but you knew that already), Yellow-crowned Nightheron, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Mute Swan, Black Swan (not countable, but cool none the less), Bronzed Cowbird with the demonic glowing red eye, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, Canada Goose (really small though, smaller than the domestic white geese floating around), Mallards, Boat-tailed Grackles, Ring-necked Doves, and of course, Starlings, and House Sparrows.