Below is an excerpt from an account of the Grand Isle Christmas Bird Count, which took place Dec. 21, 2011. Audubon's Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running citizen science effort of its kind in the world. Nearly 30 counts occur in Louisiana each season. Read the full account on the Audubon magazine blog.
"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. …
"We picked seven Red Knots out of the crowd. Red Knots are extraordinary animals, able to undertake some of the longest migratory journeys in the avian world, yet teetering on the brink of disappearance due to a whole range of human activities.
"Not unlike, in fact, the land on which we were standing, there on the fringe of the Mississippi River Delta, which – thanks to human shortsightedness – is one of the fastest disappearing landmasses on the planet. And if that weren't enough, oil had coated this very beach only months before and still lurks beneath the surface in places."