Christmas Bird Counting at Grand Isle, Louisiana

Roseate spoonbills at 2011 CBC Grand Isle, LA
David Ringer

By David Ringer

"It was almost 70 degrees when I slipped outside at 10 minutes past three on the morning of the solstice, the shortest day of the year. We had to make the most of whatever daylight we were going to get, and Grand Isle, Louisiana, was a long way away.

Grand Isle: the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana. A narrow wisp of sand marking the gulf-most extent of an old and withered Mississippi River Delta lobe. The setting for some of Kate Chopin's most memorable scenes, the site of many horrors during BP's oil disaster, and a stage for all the life in between. And today, the hub of the Grand Isle Christmas Bird Count.

The count is a surreal one for those of us who grew up Christmas Bird Counting in 12-degree weather (or worse!), crunching through snow counting finches, nuthatches, and chickadees."