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During the mid-1990s, Marais Temp Clair (St. Charles County) was a great
place for shorebirds until the willows and other vegetation were allowed to
grow up and wipe out the shorebird habitat.   Knowing that, when I went to
MTC today, I left my scope in the car because I "knew" that there would be
no good prospects for shorebirds.    I was fairly surprised when I found
that a lot of willow clearing has taken place recently which has opened up a
lot of areas.   One spot that was scraped really clean had excellent habitat
and was filled with shorebirds.  I saw both g & l-yellowlegs, pectoral and
least sandpipers there.

Back in the parking lot I ran into the Kenells who asked me where to find
shorebirds.   I directed them to the pool that I found.   They were smart
and took their scope.   When I ran into them later they told me that they
had found a WILSON'S PHALAROPE there and a dowitcher.

This good habitat is at the northeast corner of Pool 7.   Get there by
taking Hwy 370 to Hwy 94 to County Rd H to Island Rd.   Go north on Island
Rd past the open gate/dirtroad on the left to the headquarters parking lot
on the right.   Pick up a map there.  You then walk up Island Rd past the
2nd gate (counting from Rd H) and enter the 3rd gate.   Go in and take the
left fork and follow this levee to the end.  Turn left again and you will
come to the open shorebird water and mudflats.

Later I returned to the first gate (you can park partway in here) and
circumnavigated Pool 3.   From the levee that separates the northeast side
of Pool 3 from Pool 2, I saw a possible RAIL just north of the treeline at
that levee and on the Pool 2 side.   I only saw the bird flying and landing,
but the head shape and bill size and shape as it landed looked very good for
a rail.  The bird was about Killdeer size which would indicate a Virginia
Rail, but I was stymied by the wing and mantle color.   Sibley shows a fair
amount of chestnut on top for a flying Virginia Rail (and for a King Rail
also) and all I got was an impression of very dark gray with tiny white
streaks.   Other possibilities were considered and rejected:  Killdeer for
no cinnamon and white patch while flying and bill too short; snipe for lack
of the obvious stripes and I had seen lots of snipe already today; least
bittern for lack of the light brown color on the wings which should be so
apparent; sora because the bill was too long for a sora.

Birds that I saw there today by circumnavigating pool 3 and pool 7 :

Wilson's snipe - 12
Baltimore Oriole - 1
Common Yellowthroat - 3 but heard many more
Lincoln's Sparrow - 1
Pectoral Sandpiper - 8
Greater Yellowlegs - approximately 40 - 60
Lesser Yellowlegs - approximately 120 - 150
Least Sandpiper - 7
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 6
Ruby-throated Hummer - 1
Warbling Vireo -1 but heard many more
Spotted Sandpiper - 1
Solitary Sandpiper - 8
Louisiana Waterthrush - 1
Palm Warbler - 3
Great Blue Heron - maybe 25
Great Egret - maybe 40
Little Blue Heron - 12
Goldfinch - scads
Tree Swallow - 50
Barn Swallow - 15
Indigo Bunting - 10
Song Sparrow - scads
Savannah Sparrow - 10
Swamp Sparrow - 4
Killdeer and Blue wing Teal in good numbers
Quail - heard 3

John Solodar

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