The fourth annual Yellow Rails and Rice Festival was held on 24-28 October 2012. 

        New for 2012 were pre-festival tours to LSU Museum of Natural Science and White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area.  Participants reported they enjoyed both of those offerings - for White Lake the weather was hot and balmy.  Following our opening reception Thursday morning at the Grand Marais, we headed to the rice fields for our first try for Yellow Rails. Thursday’s weather was hot, humid, and uncomfortable. We split into two groups, and unlike previous years, neither field site yielded large numbers of Yellow Rails: 2 at one site, 8-10 at the other - an order of magnitude fewer than the last two years! Thursday’s Field Pass ended up an exercise in patience.  Evening activities included the jambalaya supper, sunset tour, and reception in Jennings at the Tupper Museum. 

    Friday morning trips were hampered by dense fog, which also wet the rice and delayed harvest activities until the early afternoon.  Awaiting the rice to dry, the day was on hold, and with a front approaching.  Once harvesting started, we focused our activities at one field site as the front was moving through the area and rain threatened; it drizzled a tiny bit, but not enough to interrupt harvest activities. The temps dropped during the afternoon - and it even got a bit chilly. Yellow Rail numbers remained low, but most participants saw birds flush from the field or the combine. And, the banding group was able to catch a Yellow, so participants were able to see a Yellow Rail up close.  Friday evening most participants opted to attend the Rice Gala at the Grand Marais.

    Saturday’s weather was brisk and breezy. All-day trips headed off early to the coast and pineywoods, and most other participants went back to the rail fields.  Saturday was dusty, but at least a few more Yellow Rails made a showing. After a slow start, we ended up counting at least 50 Yellow Rails for the three days - way low compared to previous festival weekends. The festival concluded with the closing reception at the Zigler Museum.

 

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival 2012

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