Egrets at Lake Martin Rookery
The rookery at the lake rivals any on this continent. Lake Martin is located just across the St. Martin Parish line from Lafayette. To reach it, drive southeast from Lafayette on Highway 94, the "Breaux Bridge Highway" (by the way, the "eaux" in "breaux" is pronounced as the English letter "O"). Just outside of Lafayette, Highway 94 drops noticeably into the Mississippi River floodplain. Right near the bottom of the hill, there is a right hand turn. This is Highway 353. Take it, and go about 5 miles until you see a sign for "Lake Martin Rookery Road" on the left. This road makes a half-circle around one end of the lake, and continues as a walking trail around the other half.
After turning off the highway, you will see a barricade to your left as you pass. This is where the walking trail and the driving road part ways. This end of the lake is a Cypress and Buttonbush thicket where tens of thousands of waders including Little Blue Herons, Great, Snowy, and Cattle Egrets, White Ibis (extremely numerous), Roseate Spoonbills (a recent addition to the rookery), and Night-Herons nest in summer. This is also a good area in summer for Barred and Great Horned Owls, Pileated, Hairy, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Parula, Prothonotary and Yellow-throated Warblers. In winter this stretch is great for Rusty Blackbirds.
The walking trail at this end of the lake offers unhurried looks at the rookery. However, watch out for alligator nests, which are basically big mounds of dirt, leaves, etc. The mothers guard these intently, and they will leave the water to ward you off.