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Report for Sat Jan 12, 2008

St. Louis Audubon Society
  -- Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  -- Edward "Ted" and Pat Jones-Confluence Point State Park
  (St. Charles County)

Riverlands was busy on this fine, although mild, winter day, with many
birders and other visitors, including eagle-watchers on tour from Alton,
Illinois.  The morning was cool -- 32F at home -- but the air warmed
steadily and the temperature at midday was probably at, or near, the
forecast high of 50F.

The Society was active today, with three separate sections operating
simultaneously, a first in my experience:  a regular field trip, a separate
one for new birders and a third for a school field trip.

Teal Pond offered quite a bit to look at, including 6 small-bodied
canada-type geese that I found at the start of the trip.  With the benefit
of nearly side-by-side size comparison to two SNOW GEESE, the canada-types
appeared to be approximately the same size, possibly even a little smaller,
but definitely not bigger than the snows, and had very short necks and
stubby bills.  The latter two field marks aren't by themselves an automatic
indication of the species, but the size comparison leads me to believe that
they can be properly called CACKLING GOOSE, with subspecies a guess, but
most likely hutchinsii.  Near trip's end, two individuals were also
carefully observed and at least one had a dark breast, not pale like typical
canadas, with no apparent contrast between the dark breast and the black
neck.  Paul Bauer photographed one bird.  I must admit that separating
Canada and Cackling Geese is still bewildering.  Thanks to Bill Rowe for
feedback and additional information on the matter.

On Riverlands Way we met up with Shawn Clubb who reported a Short-eared Owl
in the vegetation adjacent to where the cinder block toilets used to be.  We
made a good attempt to relocate the bird, but did not, and instead found 5
NORTHERN BOBWHITE.

There was a good number of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE for the day, with
birds scattered throughout the area, plus 16 species of duck, including all
three MERGANSERs.  The duck variety was nice and viewing was probably best
from the wood deck, but overall numbers were low.  As well, there were
relatively few gulls, but enough for nice looks in good light and for
contributions to the day list.

A fly-by flock of swans over Ellis Bay gave us our TUNDRA SWAN for the day.
The bird was the trailing individual, and in flight clearly showed us the
size difference in comparison to the leading TRUMPETER SWANs.

Confluence Point was a disappointment, with little bird action, although the
drive to it gave us 6 or 7 AMERICAN KESTRELs, HORNED LARKs and NORTHERN
HARRIERs.

Field Trip Stats
  Start               09:00
  End                 13:30
  Species                48
  Participation
    Regular section   2 leaders + 18
    New birders       1 leader  +  3
    School group      1 leader  + busload

The full trip list for the regular section follows, including species that
I'm aware of.  It's possible that others saw additional birds which I don't
know about.

Greater White-fronted Goose, 150
Snow Goose, 2
Cackling Goose, 6
Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
Tundra Swan, 1
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Canvasback
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Wild Turkey
Northern Bobwhite
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon, 1
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch
Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Mike Thelen
St. Louis County, MO
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