Today’s high was 68 ˚F, which is not too bad considering that on Thursday morning it was only 7 ˚F. That was the morning of the infamous ‘crinkly butt’ incident, but there was no such marital discord today. We launched early, at least for us and drove up to the Riverlands, which was hosting its final winter-birds open house of the season. You never know what you will see when you go there. Today’s haul was one of the better ones, here is our unofficial tally:
Greater White Fronted goose – 100s
Canada goose – ~100
American pelican – ~25
Trumpeter swan – ~20
American Bald eagle – 6
There were numerous other species sighted, both waterfowl and little birds. This is the first time that I’ve seen so many White Fronted geese at the Riverlands. In fact, I’ve only seen one other one there and that was five years ago. Here is a link to a picture that I took then. It was sitting rather forlornly in the Missouri side parking lot of the Mel Price lock and dam. The swans were greatly diminished since our last visit to the Riverlands, they may have been out foraging or already migrated, but on the other hand the pelicans have begun to arrive again, a sure harbinger of spring. As we were headed home, Anne remarked, “When I was first moving to Saint Louis, I never expected that I would see lots of Bald eagles here.”
We weren’t done yet though, not by half. You don’t squander weather like this in February. After a quick-lunch, we launched again, but this time on our bikes. We headed towards Forest Park, but it was mobbed. Everybody who owned a bicycle in Saint Louis was there riding it and if they didn’t own a bike, they were still there. After slogging our way through the park, we decided to leave it behind. We headed over to Tower Grove Park, which mysteriously wasn’t near as crowded. After a turn around that park, we stopped off at the botanical gardens, which is holding its annual orchid show, another great photo-op. I was concerned that the stink of two sweaty cyclist would ruin the scent of these beautiful flowers and that we would be asked to leave. My fear was groundless though. Maybe we didn’t work as hard as we thought that we had. It has been a long time since we were on the bicycles.
I went to the Riverlands Conservation Area today. I was able to photograph half a dozen different species of birds. The Riverlands is located in Saint Charles County, Missouri, on the western end of the Alton bridge. It was under this bridge that I met Matt Shellenberg, an avid birder and a way better nature photographer than I. Checkout his website here.
There were plenty of Bald Eagles roosting around the Riverlands. The individual above is one of two that I got good pictures of. He/she seems to be keeping an eagle eye on me. I suspect that they were all just hanging about, because this is their nesting season.
Most of the Trumpeter Swans seem to have departed the Riverlands. I did find one small flock (less than forty) in the wetlands area that Anne and I had gone bushwhacking for them a month ago. I spooked them as soon as I got out of the car and only got a couple shots of them as they flew away.
Anne and I have seen Common Goldeneyes all winter long, but this pair are the first that were close enough to get a shot of, that I was willing to publish. The female is to the left and the male is to the right. You can’t tell it from this shot, but their eyes are really golden.
Pictured above is a pair of Common Mergansers. Again the female is to the left and the male is to the right. These birds seem much larger than the Mergansers that I see in the summer on Lake Superior.
I was shooting pictures of a line of Mergansers and caught this Male Bufflehead. This is only the second Bufflehead that I have seen. I posted a picture of the first one that I have ever seen, just a couple of days ago. I saw that one earlier this month at Crissy Park in San Francisco. Even though I was closer to that one than the one pictured above, the above picture is a better shot. Chalk it up to better light.
The sixth species that I saw was a Great Blue Heron. It is featured in today’s header. Check it out here.