Twelve brave birders tackled the steady 26’ temperatures and the threats of freezing rain to bird Baldwin Lake, the World Shooting Complex, and Peabody River King, Saturday, 2/10, hosted by St. Louis Audubon. The “early” birds walked out the levee on the north side of the lake and found the previously reported 3 Long-tailed Ducks. The carpool group from St. Louis found a very cooperative American Pipit (picture on eBird report) on the rocks as they joined the earlier group but missed the ducks. While birding the Baldwin Lake FWA, the goal of seeing all five regularly Winter geese species for this area was achieved. A large flock of Snow Geese settled along the road allowing good scope looks of them, and at least two Ross’s Geese were in the flock for nice comparisons of field marks. At least three more American Pipits were near them along the edge of the water. A flock of vocalizing Greater White-fronted Geese flew over the group but did not land. Near the headquarter buildings, a flock of Canada Geese included 4 Cackling Geese, again providing nice comparisons as they crossed the road. A Killdeer vocalized, Bonaparte’s Gulls were flying over the lake, and a nice variety of land birds were seen including Red-headed Woodpecker, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, colorful Eastern Bluebirds, and a Pileated Woodpecker.
The group drove slowly to the World Shooting Complex seeing many American Kestrels, a Red-shouldered Hawk, and Eurasian Collared Doves. After a delicious, warm lunch at the complex, we drove that area. Two participants who had driven a different route had good looks at a Loggerhead Shrike. We were surprised by the low number of birds at the complex but did get pictures of a Merlin, Taiga population, and a few Northern Harriers, American Kestrel, and Bald Eagle were seen.
Peabody River King State Fish and Wildlife Area was our last stop. The entire day as we traveled the sky was full of ribbons of Snow Geese. Again, the number of birds at Peabody was low. We did get good pictures of another Merlin, this one appearing to be of the Prairie population. Pictures of both Merlins are available on the eBird reports. We waited to see Short-eared Owls but were disappointed with no sightings of Northern Harriers nor any owls in the area. As we left, hundreds of Snow Geese were seen arriving to roost in the pond.
Thanks to everyone that braved the cold weather to join the group and added their participation in seeing the birds. Remember the Great Backyard Bird Count next weekend!