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No need to apologize. From that perspective, anyone would have come tothe
same conclusion.However,if you had gone to the back end of Heron Pond you
would have found the remaining yellowlegs and killdeers with no problem (
they were still in the front mud areas but they are in and out of there
as they see fit and will often be on the near edge where it is hard to
see them).You would have found that barring falling into the giant hole
the COE has left in the levee(you can still walk around it) a short walk
and there you are. The recent rainfall, created  temporary mudflats back
in the area where the willows had been eliminated in the first and second
phase of elimination. While not extensive, they appeared to provide food
for a smaller number of the shorebirds you were looking for and may not
have seen at the front of Heron Pond. When the COE removed the remaining
willows in the Heron Pond, the choice was made to evict the egrets, great
blue herons, black crown night herons and the wood ducks that roosted in
the reduced willow area. Hardest hit were the wood ducks. It also
eliminated the edge habitat that most biologist say provide the areas
most useful to wildlife including the deer,coyotes as well as the birds. 
After the first cut of the willows, the water levels were allowed to
diminish in  the back end of Heron Pond to the point where the
Kingfisher's that made their living there abandonded the area. Fewer and
fewer wading birds visited the back end of Heron Pond and the number that
visited the area was reduced by at least half and maybe more. Many of the
regular birders stopped going to that part of Riverlands due to the
actions that dropped all the water levels.  If the plan is to swap one
monculture ( the cultivated lands that surround Riverlands) with another,
the manipulated mud flats, then it will take more than a few years to
decide if this is a good managment plan or if the more natural rythmn of
seasonal water levels would have been just as effective given the COE's
decison to let the area drain with the pre sluice gate water control
structures that were in place but never used to create mud. I wonder if
we will ever see the Kingfishers use that area again. I suppose the trade
off of the Least Terns diving for food back there helps but if the entire
area is going to be a mud flat, then I wonder if the terns will use that
area. Considering the majority of people that go to Riverlands never
visit the ponds along the 2 Pecan Trail and the sloughs adjacent to the
Pintail pond, they never see the black necked stilts, the pectoral
sandpipers, upland sandpipers or even the least sandpipers or the semi
palmated plovers and sandpipers that find the natural mud in those areas.
Dragonfly Marsh is nearly inaccessible so who knows what shorebirds may
or may not be using it? If anyone wants to see a pond that has been
flooded to kill vegetation, then visit the large pond on Ellis Island and
see what the beavers and muskrats have done-- there is no vegetation in
the pond and what used to be productive mud flats and areas that
supported wood ducks, herons,killdeer, yellowlegs etc is now essentially
a 'desert' suitable only for rough fish like buffalo and carp. If the COE
wants to restore that area, all it will take is a couple of people with a
shovel to open the 2 "dams" the critters have built. Please understand, I
like shorebirds as much as the next person, but I'm not sure it is a good
thing to swap one set of birds for another just because we think they are
'neater' than the others. I'm willing to wait and see. cheers  

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "Peter Richardson"
  To: [log in to unmask]
  Subject: The early shorebird gets the mud ....
  Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2009 18:05:17 -0700

  The early shorebird gets the mud ..... and the later ones get to be
  bumps on a log. But only this year!

   

  Wow, I have learned a lot from the responses to my observation about
  the water from an opened sluice covering the mud in Heron Pond, RMBS,
  St. Charles County! I have been firmly informed that my observation
  was incorrect. It was rain, and not the open sluice, that caused the
  higher water levels and the disappearance of the bare mud.

   

  I was delighted to further learn that the mud exposed in September
  was due to manipulation of the water level in the summer which
  prevented vegetation growth, resulting in bare mud when the water
  level was lowered. I was further informed that in future years the
  water level will be manipulated to keep a continuous area of exposed
  mud when the shorebirds are migrating. This is wonderful and I
  applaud what has been done at Heron Pond. I look forward to seeing
  bare mud for the entire shorebird migration in future years. I think
  that all birders will be delighted when this happens.

   

  Several people told me that heavy rain caused the bare mud in Heron
  Pond to be covered by water prior to my visit last Sunday. One person
  told me that the open sluice was having little or no effect on the
  water level because water was being released from the other end of
  Heron Pond. Obviously, I do not understand the complex water dynamics
  of this area. I have been offered a tour and an explanation of the
  water management of Heron Pond and the surrounding area. I look
  forward to this.

   

  One person suggested that Heron Pond was being flooded for the ducks.
  I have been assured that this is not correct.

   

  My original comment was written on behalf of the migrating
  shorebirds. Where are they to feed? Photographic evidence (thanks,
  Bill) shows that they are reduced to landing on logs floating in
  Ellis Bay. They may get some rest there but they need food if they
  are to continue their journey south successfully.

   

  I apologize unreservedly to anyone who was offended by my comments.
  They were an immediate reaction to seeing an opened sluice and no
  bare mud, as well as disappointment because I had been telling my
  out-of-town visitor that we finally had some great shorebird habitat
  near St. Louis.

   

  I truly hope that there will be bare mud and shorebirds at the
  official opening in a few days time.

   

  I have deliberately not mentioned names of people who contacted me.
  They know who they are. I thank them all for contacting me. I have
  written private replies to several of them.

   

  Mick Richardson, Kirkwood, St Louis County

   

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