Eagle Expo

Delaina LeBlanc, second from right, gives information on birds in the Atchafalaya Basin during a boat tour Friday. The tour was part of the ninth annual Eagle Expo sponsored by the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau. LeBlanc, a migratory birds coordinator, was aboard a Cajun Jack Swamp Tours vessel piloted by Capt. Lester Giordano with the help of Capt. Dawn Hebert.
(The Daily Review Photo by Diane Miller Fears)

An eagle was caught in flight Friday over the Atchafalaya Basin during the boat tour that was part of the Eagle Expo sponsored by the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau. The expo featured Wings to Soar presentations, a photography workshop by renowned wildlife photographer C.C. Lockwood, seminars and more.
(The Daily Review Photo by Diane Miller Fears)

Photographer C.C. Lockwood presented a photography workshop Friday as part of the ninth annual Eagle Expo. The wildlife photographer gave tips on everything from shooting images in the Atchafalaya Basin to ways to preserve photographic images. The workshop was presented at the Atchafalaya at Idlewild Golf Course clubhouse.
(The Daily Review Photo by Diane Miller Fears)

By PRESTON GILL pgill@daily-review.com

Visitors were able to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of south Louisiana swamplands in the Atchafalaya Basin and surrounding areas during the ninth annual Wings to Soar Expo that concluded Saturday.
More than 100 people, visitors from as far away as Minnesota, Florida, Alabama and Texas, came to Morgan City and attended seminars and took boat tours, Carrie Stansbury, executive director of Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau said.
While the boat tour numbers were unexpectedly down somewhat this year, Stansbury called the event a success, which she anticipates will return next year.
“It brings people into our community to take advantage of birdwatching and our natural resources,” Stansbury said. “People get to see a lot of eagles and wildlife.”
There are at least 250 nests between Morgan City and Houma, which could mean more than 500 Southern American bald eagles, Stansbury said.
Ed and Janet Davis of Metairie were two of the out-of-town visitors taking the Eagle Expo boat tour from the Joe C. Russo Memorial Boat Launch in Morgan City led by Capt. Lester Giordano with the assistance of Capt. Dawn Hebert.
“This is just heaven,” said Janet Davis. “I saw it in the Times Picayune last year and as soon as we could register we did (for this year).”
Ed Davis said, “The tourist center did a good job of promoting the event.”
The expo is held at this time of the year to increase birdwatchers’ chances of seeing eagles, Stansbury said. There is less foliage on trees and adult eagles are more visible in hunting to feed their recently hatched eaglets offspring, she said.
Even though participants saw several eagles and their nests, the birds of prey were skittish this year and departed as so as the boat got close.
Delaina LeBlanc, migratory birds coordinator, with Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program assisted the visiting birdwatchers Friday to locate and identify birds during one of the boat tours.
Stansbury believes the weather may have kept the attendance from being higher but was pleased that Morgan City had the opportunity to showcase its hospitality and the treasures of the parish from the beautiful scenery to the warmth of the community.
“We get to have people here who have never been to Morgan City and they are pleasantly surprised with what we have and they are very complimentary,” Stansbury said. “We get great publicity from the Expo. We enjoy entertaining all of these visitors.” The Expo provides an economic boost to hotels as well as swamp tour outlets that are usually slow this time of the year, she said.
Before the weekend seminars and tours, the Expo had an official start with a Thursday night informational presentation of Wings to Soar at the Patterson Civic Center but before that there was a preliminary unofficial presentation to about 50 people Wednesday at the same location. Audiences were treated to up close views and aerial presentations of several birds of prey.
Thursday and Friday, Expo programs in the public schools introduced students to the majestic animals with lessons about their habits and environment.
“All the students really enjoyed it,” Stansbury said. “It went great.”
Diane Miller Fears contributed to the reporting.

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