Birder's Guide

AUG 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Bons oiseaux, bons temps en Louisiane! f of shallow water has produced a surprising number of rarities, particularly in winter and during migration. A few examples are Surf, White-winged, and Black scoters, Common Merganser, Red-throated Loon, Red-necked and Western grebes, Sabine's Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Pomarine and Parasitic jaegers, and Ringed Kingfsher. The lake is just large enough so that Bald Eagle is not unexpected during the colder months. Wintering ducks run the gamut and include the entire Anas spectrum, plus Canvasback, Redhead, scaup, Buffehead, Common Goldeneye, and Ruddy Duck. A male Cape May Warbler spent a recent winter along the lakeshore, and a year or so later a male Tropical Parula did so, as well. While Cross Lake may well be Louisiana's number one inland lake for rarity sightings, the bad news is that development along the shores has severely limited the chances for birders to use a spotting scope to search for them. In fact, a large portion of the water's surface cannot be scrutinized from the few spots along the FREE Louisiana Guide Online! For the frst time ever, you can get a FULL copy of an ABA Birdfnding Guide online for FREE! Just go to www.aba.org/siteguides/la.html. The ABA gratefully acknowledges the support of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area in making this free e-guide possible. Hard copies are available for purchase from Buteo Books at www.buteobooks.com or 800-722-2460. banks that allow public access. Added to the problem is the lack of adequate parking, as the narrow shoulders and the law prohibit pulling off the road except in emergency situations. Nevertheless, the reward-to-risk ratio is great enough to warrant a visit by birders during the winter. This is particularly true if it is combined with a side trip to one of the nearby parks or nature areas. To begin a tour of Cross Lake, take the northbound I-220 bypass from its junction with I-20 west of Shreveport and exit west onto Lakeshore Drive (Exit 2). At 0.9 mi., the road Ts at South Lakeshore Drive. Turn left and drive 0.4 mi. to the entrance to Ford Park. Ford Park occupies property on both sides of the road; however, the small segment of the park on the lake side can be more interesting to birders and is worth a look. In addition to a good view of the lake, resident White-breasted and Brown-headed nuthatches can be seen and heard here. Red-breasted Nuthatch joins them during irruptive winters. Also in winter, Winter Wrens and Rusty Blackbirds work the lake edges where baldcypress and tupelo occur. A public boat launch operated by Shreveport Parks and Recreation is 0.2 mi. farther along on the right—one of the very few sites from which a scope gives you a good look across an expanse of open water. Visible from here is an island rookery used by Double-crested Cormorants, herons, egrets, and perhaps even a Bald Eagle. During post-breeding dispersal season, the roosting birds number in the tens of thousands. At 0.7 mi. farther, the Valencia On Cross Lake special event center has a parking lot with a great view across the lake. The next The gorgeous Tricolored Heron, which is easy to fnd in many of the state's wetlands, was once known as the Louisiana Heron. Photo © Arto Hakola. 20 Birder's Guide to Travel | August 2013

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