Anne and I went birding again on Sunday and returned to the Riverlands Conservation Area. This is one of the areas that we had visited last week on our Bald Eagle expedition. The weather on Sunday was a lot colder than the last time. The high that day was only fourteen. The sky was clearer than last time, no snowstorm and even some blue sky. Our bird count for the day includes Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese and a Cooper’s Hawk.
We also went to Ted Jones State Park and shot today’s header. We’ve seen this park many times from across both of the rivers, but this is the first time that we have been to this point. It gives a nice view of the two rivers as they come together. It would be nice to come back there in the summer and put one foot in the Missouri River and the other foot in the Mississippi River. It would also be nice to put same said feet immediately afterwards into two pails of disinfectant.
The river’s had iced up considerably since our last visit. The following picture graphically demonstrates this condition. I had heard on the radio that two of the ferries in the area had suspended operation due to the ice. Even so, there was a lineup of tugs along with their barges on both the upstream and downstream sides of Mel Price Lock and Dam.
Some of you might think that Anne and especially I have become real bird brains, what with chasing around in the cold, always trying to find new species of birds and such. Well you should meet some of the people who we meet on these expeditions. Take Gus for example. He lives in Edwardsville, Illinois and comes to Riverlands several times a week to buy gas. Gasoline is about a quarter a gallon cheaper in Missouri compared to Illinois, because of our lower red-state taxes. There is a large gas station situated just across the river, just at the entrance to the Riverlands. I wonder if his wife wonders why it takes him three hours to buy gas?
When we stopped at Mel Price to look for birds we met Gus. Actually, he came up to us and started talking. He is a talker and loves to talk. While we were speaking those unidentified duck-like objects that we had seen before were spotted again. Gus thought that they were Coots. If you ask me he was the coot. He did spot the Bald Eagle that flew over us and made it into a picture for this post.
He did give us a steer to another birding spot, Dresser Island. The parking lot is situated off of Brick House Slough and is just down river from an Ameren-UE power plant. All of the warm water coming from the power plant keeps a portion of the slough ice-free. As this cold snap continues, open water will become a rarity and will attract hundreds of Bald Eagles into single spots. This will create a birders delight, one that we have not seen for more than twenty-five years.