Yesterday I saw my first “fall” migrant birds: three Least Sandpipers and some more unidentified peeps flying in the vicinity.

This was at the Buck and Katy Pools unit of Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area in Boone County. The main part of the conservation area remains closed due to flooding—yesterday I noticed they put up a stop sign asking visitors to turn around as soon as Star School Road connects to the first levee. Buck and Katy Pools is separate from this part; it is located just south of McBaine and has a gravel auto tour loop that is currently open and above water.

My initial plan for the evening was to visit Columbia City Wetland Cells #1 and #4, but I changed my mind when I saw that Buck and Katy Pools had better mudflats than a few days ago, hoping for early migrant shorebirds. Katy Pool was practically a lake, but I could make out the shape of several shorebirds in Buck Pool with my binoculars. I meant to bring a telescope with me for this reason, but I forgot (again). After only photographing a bunch of Killdeer, a large percentage of the shorebirds and blackbirds flew away, eastward. I could hear some kind of peeps flying above me, and I think I saw at least one group of around six of the smaller shorebirds in the air.

But there were still some birds in the area, and I noticed some tiny, brown sandpipers closer to road—close enough for me to ID with a camera. I could have sworn there were five of them at first, but then I could only see three—I either over-counted in a hurry or a couple flew off while I looked away. My pictures revealed a brown, sparrow-sized shorebird that appeared to show hints of dull yellow legs. I think those were all Least Sandpipers.

Let the migration begin!

Josh M
Boone County

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