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The Gulf States tour - making the most of crewchange mayhem.
April 2008

A typical crewchange tour - constant changes to the vessel schedule meant although there seemed to be plenty of time to look around there was too much uncertainty to use this time usefully. Birding was therefore limited to walks around the block in downtown Mobile, Alabama, looking out of a car window between Mobile and New Orleans, and another drive from New Orleans to the heliport at Galliano. 

Frustratingly I missed out the Alabama birding route and probably some other good opportunities..

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

In Mobile, the  most productive place was on the river down by the  convention centre.  Typically for American cities  it was totally  geared to cars and it was difficult to get anywhere on foot. However, walking around town did produce some good birds and kept me out of the many (good) bars at least some of the time.....

A couple of days on the vessel, transitting from a worksite in the Gulf of Mexico over to Miami, were almost totally birdless. A couple of migrating Cattle Egret flew past the boat in the Gulf and Royal Tern followed us as we neared Miami. Of course, the crew told me about a massive fallout of birds onboard not long before my arrival.....

This time a DSLR and a 400mm telephoto lens was used to photograph the birds - a useful way of identifying unfamiliar birds.

Double-crested Cormorant Blue Jay
Double-crested Cormorant,  Phalacrocorax auritus
Mobile, April 2008
Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata
Mobile, April 2008

I used the following book to identify the birds I saw during this trip - highly recommended and simple enough to use.


Loggerhead Shrike Osprey
Loggerhead Shrike, Lanius ludovicianus
Mobile, April 2008
Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
Mobile, April 2008sprey

Caspian Tern Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Caspian Tern, Sterna caspia
Mobile, April 2008
Compare to Royal Tern near the bottom of this page
Northern Rough-winged SwallowStelgidopteryx serripennis
Mobile, April 2008

Northern Mockingbird Laughing Gull
Northern MockingbirdMimus polyglottos
Mobile, April 2008
Laughing Gull, Larus atricilla
Mobile, April 2008


House Finch
House Finch, Carpodacus mexicanus
Mobile, April 2008

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove - one of the commonest birds around town
Mobile, April 2008

American Coot Ring-billed Gull
American Coot, Fulica americana
Mobile, April 2008
Ring-billed Gull, Larus delawarensis
Mobile, April 2008

List of species noted 08-12 April 2008
Many other species were seen but not identified these included  raptors, wildfowl, ibis, herons, hirundines etc, etc.

If you go birding in Mobile at the right time of year you may be able to attend the yearly Chili Cookoff. There are many types of chili presented in the competition, from Chuck's chili recipes to vegetarian and spicy chili recipes.

English name Scientific name Comments
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis Common on the water at Mobile
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus Common on the water at Mobile
Snowy Egret Egretta thula A couple seen at Mobile
Triclored Heron Egretta tricolor One seen during drive from Mobile to New Orleans
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea Two beside a river on the outskirts of Mobile
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Common during drive from Mobile to New Orleans, two seen migrating over the sea well out in the Gulf of Mexico
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax One behind hotel in New Orleans, several in the middle of Miami
Yellow-crowned Night-heron Nyctanassa violacea Two beside a river on the outskirts of Mobile
Canada Goose Branta canadensis Mobile
Wood Duck Aix sponsa A pair seen on a river on the outskirts of Mobile
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus Very common roadside bird near New Orleans
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus Common during drive from Mobile to New Orleans
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Common during drive from Mobile to New Orleans
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus 1-3 during drive from Mobile to New Orleans
Osprey Pandion haliaetus Downtown Mobile and drve to New Orleans
American Kestrel Falco sparverius Mobile
American Coot Fulica americana One beside the convention cenre in Mobile
Sora Porzana carolina One dead on the pavement in downtown Mobile
Killdeer Charadrius vociferous A few at the heliport
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia One by the convention centre in Mobile
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla Very common everywhere
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis A few on the water at Mobile
(American) Herring Gull Larus argentatus A few on the water at Mobile
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia Common on the water at Mobile
Royal Tern Sterna maxima One 15 nautical miles off Florida Keys
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura Very common everywhere
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica Several in Mobile
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto Common in Mobile
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica Common in Mobile
Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon One on a river on the outskirts of Mobile
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus One on outskirts of Mobile, 2+ at heliport
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata In town gardens, Mobile
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos Common
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis Four at convention centre, Mobile
(American) Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica A few in Mobile
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos Very common everywhere
Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum One in Mobile
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris Very common everywhere
Myrtle Warbler Dendroica coronata Common in Mobile
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus A few in Mobile
Boat-tailed Grackle Quiscalus major Common most places
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus Common in Mobile
House Sparrow Passer domesticus Very common everywhere

Boat-tailed Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle, parking lot at the Four Points Sheraton in New Orleans

Royal Tern
Royal Tern, 15 nautical miles off the Florida Keys

Some other books covering birding in Alabama are given below:

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