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Birds of note:
  A year bird for all of us: first cycle GLAUCOUS GULL first reported 2/27 at Riverlands.
  Great Egret at ILL 203 Bend/Layton Rd, possibly same as reported near 111 on 2-27.
  2 Am Black Ducks across from Alton Barge.
  Northern Shrike NOT found.
   
  We began our birding at Horseshoe Lake Bend/Layton Road off ILL 203.  No Gyrfalcon nor the Peregrine Falcon two of us had seen there 2-25 were found.  The Peregrine with dark helmet we identified as an immature female because of size and streaked rather than barred breast; pointed crossed falcon wings extended almost to the end of the tail which was not overly long.  Thursday a few Bald Eagles peppered the trees along the road or terrorized the big Ring-billed Gull flocks sitting on the ice of the big lake.  A Red-tailed Hawk with belly band was sitting in a distant tree that had a makeshift undisguised stand and flimsy ladder on the far side of a field before the railroad tracks. 
   
  On the first small pond on the right just past the gate near the end of Layton, we refound the same cast that had been there Monday: Gadwall, Mallards, N Shovelers, 2 Green-winged Teal, a single Canvasback, Ring-necked, 2 Lesser Scaup, Ruddys, Am Coots.  The Teal and the Gadwall particularly displayed their beauty in the soft light. The ducks were swimming back and forth in the small area of open water, splashing around bathing or standing or feeding bottoms up, sitting or walking on the ice, ...a very peaceful scene.  One of the group spotted a single Great Egret on the far side of the pond, head pulled in, hunched shoulders.  None of the birds paid any attention to twelve birders "hiding" in four cars who were enjoying the morning with them.  On the way in and back from 203 in the limited areas of open water in the lake, Common Mergansers were plentiful, a few Red-breasted and a few Hooded Mergs, several sizable flotillas of Ruddy Ducks, more Mallards, more Scaup, 
 Several Great Blue Herons flushed as we drove along the lake road; each had been watched carefully by its own gull, eager to try to steal any spoils of a successful fishing attempt.  We saw two Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a N Flicker and a Downy as we came back down Layton Road.  Near the houses on Bend Rd we saw White-throated, White-Crowned and Song Sparrows.
   
  A lunch stop at the Horseshoe Lake causeway off Hwy 111 brought more of the same ducks and herons.  Two swans were seen flying off to the north, possibly the Mute Swans that had been sighted there earlier in the year and for the last two or three years.
   
  Three cars went on to Riverlands.  Several Wild Turkeys were beside Hwy 143 along with three or four deer.  A Bald Eagle was sitting near the old 143 roadside nest where two had been the day before, apparently a pair from the size difference.  Two Am Black Ducks were refound in the marshy area across from Alton Barge.  After briefly checking Lincoln Shields and circling back under the bridge we found the GLAUCOUS GULL with Ring Bills and Herrings very close to the road just beyond the Ellis Bay parking lot.
   
  We saw many Bald Eagles of various ages and plumages standing on the ice or sitting in the bigger trees on the Missouri side of the Clark Bridge.  At least half the flock of 150+ White-fronted Geese seen in Ellis Bay the day before across from Teal Pond seemed to have overnighted there.  There were fewer Trumpeter Swans in that mix and no Tundras were identified.  There were several small Canada type geese with tiny bills. The big flock of Eurasian Tree Sparrows popped up to the top of the grasses by HQ.  Plenty of Am White Pelicans remained below the dam.  A Cooper's Hawk, a possible Sharp-shinned, an Am Kestrel and one or two N Harriers were seen as we headed down the Confluence Rd in search of the elusive Northern Shrike...no luck once again.  A few scattered Horned Larks, but no flocks of small birds with or without black tails crossed the road.
   
  It was a cool but beautiful day to be out birding.
   
  Jackie Chain
  St Louis County

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