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The ST. LOUIS AUDUBON SOCIETY ran its annual Two Rivers NWR, Illinois, field
trip Saturday with a great group, mixed weather and a respectable species
list for the day.  Maximum participation was 13 folks, plus 3 visitors
joining and departing along the way.

Spots hit during the day included Gilbert lake, Stump Lake, Pere Marquette
SP bluff trail, Swan Lake -- at 3 different times -- Calhoun Wetlands Rd, HQ
and all 6 miles of the Swan Lake levee road.

The downriver end of Swan Lake is heavily vegetated and the Ranger advised
that the bulk of the waterfowl were in open water in upriver pools.  After
lunch a team meeting was held on the HQ deck and, considering the rare
opportunity to drive the Swan Lake levee, it only took a couple of minutes
to change the day's plan, skip Riverlands, and head upriver.

This humble reporter took the time available to look at the birds, so
forgive the lack of serious estimated counts and take, in place:
-- AMERICAN COOT, too many to count
-- GADWALL and NORTHERN PINTAIL, the largest representations of ducks
-- MALLARD and RUDDY DUCK, next in numbers
-- AMERICAN WIGEON, 2 dozen

Ducks, geese and coots added up to a total number of birds on the lake in
the low 10s of 1000s.  Very impressive...and overwhelming.

By my calculation our group's aggregate species total was 85, including 3
goose, 9 duck, 9 hawk, 7 shorebird, 2 owl (wild, not including the live
display birds at Open House), 7 woodpecker for a sweep, 4 warbler and 9
sparrow, including DARK-EYED JUNCO.

Highlights included singles each of GREAT EGRET, MERLIN, EASTERN PHOEBE,
BELTED KINGFISHER, TENNESSEE WARBLER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, YELLOW-RUMPED
WARBLER and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT; multiple fly-bys of the large, noisy,
resident flock of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE; 8 SNOW GOOSE; 2 WILD TURKEY;
both KINGLETS; soaring flocks of AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN; a massive swarm of
TREE SWALLOW over Swan Lake; and nice shorebird studies on the Illinois
River.  And also a highlight, but mentioned only in passing, were the
glowing fall colors over the Great River Road in the late afternoon light.

We had a decent variety of raptors for the day, and enjoyed a mini hawk
watch from the HQ deck while the birds were moving steadily, and generally,
south.  I found it exciting.

My raptor count for the day, for some listed here, are likely too
conservative:

01 Osprey
12 Bald Eagle
06 Northern Harrier
05 Sharp-shinned Hawk
01 Cooper's Hawk
03 Red-shouldered Hawk
15 Red-tailed Hawk
01 American Kestrel
01 Merlin

Owl photos here:

http://mike-thelen.smugmug.com/Nature/Birding-3/St-Louis-Audubon-Society/260
66084_vFV4QC#!i=2164679890&k=C92xTCn

Thanks to all the enthusiastic participants, keen-eyed spotters, helpful
Illinois Audubon volunteers and, especially, the staff of Two Rivers NWR for
their outstanding hospitality.

For the St. Louis Audubon Society,

Mike Thelen
University City, St. Louis County, MO
[log in to unmask]

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