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Reason for hope on Grand Isle?


The ultimate impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill on the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding coastline will remain unclear for some time.  Birders and environmentalists are right to express continued concern as the nation’s worst environmental disaster has largely faded from the media’s memory if not the memories of the ABA’s Drew Wheelan and Ted Eubanks, both of whom have been on the forefront of any discussion having to do with the incident.

Audubon staffer and bird blogger David Ringer has been there too in his work in the Lower Mississippi region, and while there’s still an almost overwhelming amount of work to be done to mitigate the oil’s pervasive effects he offers a sliver of hope for a beseiged region in the form of several overwintering neotropical migrants in the still lush interior of the island.

We had seven warbler species and four hummingbird species — not bad for mid-January. Dan [Muth] had a Chuck-will’s-widow, and David and I had a Wood Thrush and a female-plumaged Painted Bunting. Throw in Golden-crowned Kinglets, Northern Gannets, and a Mountain Bluebird, and you end up with a pretty eclectic list for the day.


Photo by David J. Ringer

The beach may still be in rough shape after months of cleanup, but for all the bad news we’ve been getting it’s nice to see some signs of life carrying on.  I’ve certainly got my fingers crossed that the birds begin to see a return to some semblance of normal.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. He is also the author of Birding for the Curious. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
Nate Swick

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