April 12, 2012– Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) opened a new, two-mile birding and nature trail at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) south of Gueydan in Vermilion Parish.
“The White Lake property contains thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and the new birding and nature trail offers easy access for anyone wishing to see a diverse sample of the species which inhabit that ecosystem,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “We encourage the public to utilize this wonderful resource.”
The trail, open daily from sunrise to sunset, is located on 32 acres on the north side of the property. There is no fee or permit required for visitors.
Visitor parking spaces are available at the entrance to White Lake WCA, located 7.4 miles south of Gueydan at the south end of Hwy. 91. The trail area includes a covered pavilion with tables, two educational kiosks with information on the trail and the species of plants and animals in and around the WCA, and an observation tower located at the southeast corner of the trail. This tower provides visitors a panoramic view of the trail and surrounding White Lake WCA property.
White Lake WCA includes numerous species of plants, birds and mammals. The trail provides an array of habitat types that attracts a high diversity of avian species. Visitors to the trail can expect to see a variety of bird species including waterfowl, wading birds, and songbirds.
White Lake WCA was included in the Audubon National Christmas Bird Count for the first time in 2011, which marked the 112th year of the longest running citizen science survey in the world. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they saw or heard throughout the day. The counts provide critical data on bird population trends.
Several species were documented for the first time on the White Lake WCA during the 2011 survey. Highlights from this year’s survey included: a pair of nesting Great Kiskadees, representing one of only two or three known breeding pairs in the state; the second state record of a Gray Flycatcher, observed by the LDWF state ornithologist, Michael Seymour; and the first state record of a Prairie Falcon, observed by leading ornithologists, Steve Cardiff and Donna Dittmann. Based upon this survey and other sightings, White Lake’s list of bird species could include 300 species, 174 of which have been documented by sight, sound, or video on the property.
“The White Lake WCA Birding and Nature Trail will be a tremendous asset for outdoor enthusiasts,” said White Lake Advisory Board Chairman Armond Schwing. “The area provides an excellent opportunity to experience the beauty and diversity of the region while observing an abundance of native and migratory waterfowl.”
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov  on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb  or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.
For more information on the White Lake WCA birding trail visithttp://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/white-lake-wca-birding-and-nature-trail , or contact Carrie Salyers at 337-536-9400 or firstname.lastname@example.org .