The St. Louis Audubon Society field trip yesterday had what I assume was a record-low turnout of five people, including me -- no doubt because everyone woke up and saw it snowing. That did not deter Brad Jacobs and Paul McKenzie, who drove up from Columbia, nor local stalwarts Diane Bricmont and Tom Parmeter. The snow turned out to be only a minor impediment, as it was light and didn't really accumulate. Later in the morning it turned to drizzle, but by afternoon there was no precipitation.
Riverlands, now ice-free, produced mainly waterfowl once again, with 20 species recorded. Most impressive were the large patchy rafts of Northern Pintail out in the bay at Lincoln-Shields, an estimated 2000 birds. That area also had a good number (138) of lingering Trumpeter Swans, with 12 Tundras among them. Quite a few gulls were circulating around Ellis Bay and Teal Pond, but we couldn't pick anything different out of them. Here's the list:
We also spent several intervals of time in the hotspot that covers the Illinois part of Riverlands, which in eBird is labeled "Melvin Price Lock and Dam 26." This includes the parking lot area on the south side of the spillway plus route 143 and the Great Rivers Museum area on the north side. There we had a White-winged Scoter and three additional gull species: Iceland, Glaucous, and Lesser Black-backed. The Iceland and Lesser Black-back were represented by at least two individuals each, and to my knowledge (and surprise) the Glaucous Gull was the first to be seen all winter in the Riverlands area; it did not appear to stick around, however. Descriptions and photos of some species are here:
It was interesting how good the "gulling" was, considering that the population around the dam remains far lower than it was only a couple of weeks ago, no more than a few hundred.