Memphis area (Meeman-Shelby, Eagle Lake, Stiles Treatment Plant, Ensley
I had intended to post this sooner; not that it would have mattered regarding
the best birds of the day.
I began the day Meeman-Shelby Forest SP, with returning Swainson's Warbler the
highlight, without much showing from transients yet. River Rd is pretty
treacherous once you drop off into the floodplain, still covered with a layer
of mud and very easy to get stuck on.
The Eagle Lake area is mostly underwater, with small numbers of expected
waterfowl and shorebirds. Highlight here was a distant soaring Anhinga and two
Lark Sparrows along the road just above the entrance gate. Another Anhinga,
this one perched, was in the slough on the east side of N. Watkins Rd just
north of the Hwy 51 intersection.
A brief stop at the North (Stiles) Treatment Plant rewarded me with decent
numbers of shorebirds on the flooded lawn area there, including a Short-billed
Dowitcher, and upwards of 80 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. Western Kingbirds
haven't quite made it back yet, none seen on the day. The main pit was totally
flooded, as expected.
Ensley was also very underwhelming, with practically all of the traditional
shorebird areas totally inundated. The roads around the complex were also still
very muddy, which I'm sure has only gotten worse since I was there with this
additional rain. It would be VERY easy to get stuck on the road along the south
part of the complex in particular. The returning Fulvous Whistling Duck was
still present, part of the day if loafed with the majority of the Black-bellied
Whistlers in the big open water area across from the spread fields, but it
moved around a lot, always traveling by itself as it changed locations.
Highlight here were two Marbled Godwits, in the same area across form the
spread fields. I found them about 2:15 PM, sleeping amongst the Black-bellied
Whistling Ducks up away from the water. They eventually woke up and fed and
preened, with a lot of calling at times, before taking off and heading
northwest at about 6:30 PM on the dot. Typical actions for big shorebirds put
down by weather; rest a bit and prepare for the next part of the journey and
leave just before sundown. Luckily, Victor and Ruben made it in time for them
to see them as well.
Overall only 10 species of shorebirds on the day, and very low numbers;
especially compared to the bounty up in NW TN right now!
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