St.Louis Audubon Society had a birding trip to Horseshoe Lake in Madison County IL on Saturday, March 19. About 15 people made up the group including some new birders.
Conditions of note - (1) Traditionally this trip has included traversing the long western arm of the lake coming in from route 203 along Bend Rd and Layton Rd. Layton Rd now has a concrete barrier about 1/2 mile from where Bend Rd turns off to the right. We were able to walk around this barrier and had good birding beyond it, but cars could not get past. (2) The main portion of Horseshoe Lake north of the causeway had many American Coots, but all other waterfowl were very low in numbers. South of the causeway was much more productive. (3) Going down Sand Prairie Lane toward Cahokia Mounds, the large water area just past Cahokia Canal and the canal itself held only one Canada Goose and nothing else.
Birds of note - A huge flock of American White Pelicans in the morning sun south of the causeway provided a spectacular sight just after 8:00 am.
A pair of Bald Eagles have an active nest across the water from Layton Rd about 100 yards after the road closure.
A dark phase Harlan’s Red-tail Hawk in the same area produced a flurry of excitement and consultation with field guides until Mike Thelen correctly identified the bird.
The gulls at the borrow pit were all at the far end in the water or on the open area of garbage. None were close to the gate.
Trip list - as remembered
American White Pelican - several hundred
Double-crested Cormorants - about 40
Great Blue Heron
A pair of swans -probably Trumpeter but too far away at the borrow pit to be certain. Definitely not Mutes.
Northern Shoveler - around 25
Red-Breasted Merganser - all maies about 25
Red-tailed Hawk - Harlan’s
Bonaparte’s Gull - group of 6 sitting on the causeway with Ring-billed Gulls
Carolina Wren - heard
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
"The older I get the better I was."
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