YRARF 2017 started with rain. The three pre-festival trips dodged or were drenched by rain squalls. Rainfall initially predicted to be tenths of inches exceeded multiple inches with at least four falling on Thornwell ! No harvesting occurred so Beat The Crowds missed their rice harvest field time. Despite the weather, most participants appeared to enjoy these pre-festival trips.

The opening of YRARF on Thursday followed heavy rains on Wednesday - conditions were humid and overcast and it was not until the late afternoon when skies became sunny that we were able to cut rice for a couple of hours. Rain-flooded fields moved rails out of rice fields with higher water levels but we still managed to score all four regular species: Sora, Virginia, King and, of course the star of the festival, Yellow Rail - with exceptional looks at one Yellow that flushed towards the participants to be caught and banded.  With the weather contingency plan in motion the first-ever Coastal Rail Trip was moved to Thursday evening and successfully flushed a BLACK RAIL - the first ever observed and banded during the YRARF.

Friday morning trips searched locally for rice field specialties, plus there was a tour of Crowley WTP and the nearby Falcon Rice Mill. At the harvest site we were treated to 12 Yellow Rails, as well as 6 Kings, 11 Virginias, and 18 Soras. While waiting for the harvest to begin, a Ruff found near the harvest site entertained participants.

By Saturday, Yellow Rails had been seen by almost everyone. Many participants opted for all day field trips to the Coast or Pineywoods, which meant relatively few people at the harvest site...even the Coordinator got her turn on the combine (and saw four Yellow Rails flush from the exterior landing)! The banding workshop was in full swing and caught additional Yellow Rails, other rails, and even some Tree Swallows.

The 2017 finale was the Cameron Coast trip on Sunday.

A sampling of eBird lists: Wednesday: BEAT THE CROWDS AM & PM, Lacassine Pool; Thursday: Local, Rice Harvest; Thursday Coastal Saltmarsh; Friday: Local, Rice Harvest, and Saturday: Rice Harvest. You may need to be logged in to eBird so access lists.

American Press article: http://www.americanpress.com/news/local/birdwatchers-flock-to-ninth-annual-yellow-rails-and-rice-festival/article_7f832226-c0b5-11e7-8afd-1fcc40147a18.html

USA Rice video with some great drone video footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=IKQIkBUmRaI

USA Rice Daily article: https://www.usarice.com/news-resources/daily/usa-rice-daily/2017/11/06/ninth-annual-yellow-rails-rice-festival-celebrates-louisiana-s-working-wetlands


Yellow Rails and Rice Festival 2017

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