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About 22 of us gathered at Teal Pond, Riverlands, yesterday for the first
St. Louis Audubon field trip of the 2018-19 season. It was warm and
variably overcast to sunny, and the Mississippi was very full, as it has
been for weeks. While these were not the most auspicious conditions, we
managed to find enough birds to hold everyone's attention.

The most obvious migrants were the Bank Swallows, which were passing
through in the hundreds; I held the estimate to 200 just to make sure it
was suitably conservative. In the shorebird department, besides Killdeer
and Spotted Sandpiper, we had just a few Arctic migrants, all at Teal Pond:
a group of Least Sandpipers that allowed everyone some good studies, plus a
single Semipalmated Sandpiper and Semipalmated Plover. Two Caspian Terns
also provided outstanding scope views, as did a group of Horned Larks that
included at least one juvenile. (Juvenile Horned Larks are always a puzzle
if you're not used to seeing them; you could imagine them to be almost
anything from a weird sparrow to a super-rarity.)

One Sedge Wren tantalized us by singing and diving into the grass, but no
good look was to be had; the same was true of a Bell's Vireo singing but
hidden at the Audubon Center, next to some Eastern Bluebirds. Down at the
end of Riverlands Way, everyone had distant looks at three Snowy Egrets and
a Cooper's Hawk that kicked up big numbers of Killdeer and Mourning Doves.

Here is the eBIrd list of birds seen at Riverlands:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S48221661

We then headed up the river on the Illinois side to try for some shorebird
habitat at the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge. We failed to find any,
but we did add some species plus nice views of egrets, pelicans, eagles,
etc. Here are the short lists we had at Gilbert Lake and then across the
Illinois River at Swan Lake:

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S48221852
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S48221992

Note: I have shared these lists with everyone who I know has an eBird
account and for whom I have an email address. If I've missed anyone who
would like to have the list shared directly with them, please let me know
and I'll do that. And thanks to all for coming out and birding with us.

Bill Rowe

St. Louis

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