[TN-Bird] Weekend Memphis and Environs

  • From: OLCOOT1@xxxxxxx
  • To: tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2003 09:29:26 EDT

Sept. 20-21, 2003
Mud Island, Mud Lake
Ensley and Ark. Rice Fields
Shelby Co. TN
Crittenden Co. Ark
Saturday was a lovely day, with 4 visitors at the pits most of the day. Dr. 
Pullen and his wife from Vicksburg were looking over areas for Audubon's 
Mississippi River Birding Trail and Alice and Bud Johnson down from Dresden, TN.

I started the morning at Mud Island, looking over to the new born sandbar but 
found only 6 Caspian Terns and a single Black Tern with a multitude of Great 
and Snowy Egrets. At the pits I had a single Wood Stork standing in the back 
pool for the first of its kind seen on the ground there. A surprise was 2 Lark 
Sparrows feeding on the edge of the road with a Palm Warbler feeding above 
them in the Lamb's Quarter and a few Savannah Sparrows scattered about.

The balance of shorebirds has swung heavily to Least Sandpipers but I was 
treated to 16 total shorebird species. Solitary, Spotted, Greater Yellowlegs, 
Bairds, Buff-breasted had only one representative present but a brace of adult 
Avocets fell in just before noon and immediately went to sleep, conveying their 
intent to continue their travels which they did less than 30 minutes later. I 
managed to get a shot of the dozing couple before their departure. 

Five of us had a surprise encounter when Alive discovered a large Bobcat 
taking a time out and standing in a pool of water. It watched us as we watched 
through the scope. We all were transfixed by an adult Peregrine that harassed 
the shorebirds time and again and then would spiral up into the sun and wait 
for another speedy attempt. At the pits, you just never know what will show up.

A quick trip across the bridge revealed a lot of cut rice but still plenty in 
the fields in a couple of locations and it appears too green to harvest as I 
checked some fruiting heads. The only harvesting going on was raising a lot of 
dust but no rails. I did find 3 Bobolinks at one stop while watching for 
rails.They have already started burning fields and the skies are dingy all 

Melinda Welton and Jan Shaw joined me late in the afternoon on Saturday for a 
fast trip through the area. Sunday morning we started at the river front and 
had 5 species of terns, 2 Caspian, 1 Least, 12 Forster's, 1 Common and 3 
Black. The only other traffic being a single Pied-billed Grebe and Blue-winged 
that floated by us. At the pits we ran through the few remaining Semipalmated 
and Western Sandpipers in the hordes of Least. All the Westerns were in full 
basic plumage and all Semis were immatures. We did have a short study of a 
particularly interesting peep that raised a few questions; they always get the 
juices running. 

Jan found a closeby Marsh Wren in the grass and a molting male Blue Grosbeak 
was a late bird. Virginia Reynolds and Carolyn Bullock located a single Lark 
Sparrow which we finally relocated for a state bird for Melinda. We were to see 
more Common and Forster's Terns at Robco and Mud Lake. At Mud Lake we had a 
single White Pelican as a flyby but no Wood Storks. 

After they left I returned to the Mississippi and sat in the rain, which did 
not deter the constant trickle of Forster's, Common and Black Terns, going 
south while 6 Caspian Terns and a single Ring-billed Gull hunkered on the bar.

Good Birding!!!

Jeff R. Wilson
Bartlett, TN

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