A Great New Year for People and Birds

First Day Hikers learn about the importance of bottomland forests at the Jameson Island Unit of the Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge — neighboring Arrow Rock State Historic Site.

First Day Hikers learn about the importance of bottomland forests at the Jameson Island Unit of the Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge — neighboring Arrow Rock State Historic Site.

Happy 2016 Everyone! Happy New Year to all the birds, too! We wish all of those wonderful people and birds out there that make the world a better place. You already started us off on great 2016 as we led a First Day Hike at Arrow Rock State Historic Site and enjoyed the 116th Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) at Swan Lake the following Day.

Eighteen people took part in the First Day Hike. If you missed out on this year, there is always next year with many state parks participating. Of coarse our hike was probably a little more bird-centric than most as we offered field guides and binoculars.

Hikers not only enjoyed some mild exercise in fine weather, but they were able to see some great birds in the town of Arrow Rock and within the bottomland forest habitat of the Jameson Island Unit of the Big Muddy USFWS Refuge. Birds like Golden-crowned Kinglets, Common Merganser, Woodpeckers, and several others were observed at close range.

Many of the birds that we counted were found on habit in USDA/NRCS wetland reserve or grassland conservation easements. The provide great havens for our winter visitors such as Sparrows and Harriers.

Many of the birds that we counted were found on habit in USDA/NRCS wetland reserve or grassland conservation easements. The provide great havens for our winter visitors such as Sparrows and Harriers.

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Red-headed Woodpeckers Galore!

The Amazing, Red-headed Woodpecker was everywhere along the bottomland forest of Yellow Creek Conservation Area. Striking black and white plumage with a bright red head. This woodpecker is voiciferous and very active.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count tradition has been conducted at over ninety locations in Missouri since 1900. Locations consist of a search area that is fifteen miles in diameter. The Swan Lake circle area has been done every year since 1939 and this year marked the 76th annual count there.

The count is done in teams and our team tackled areas surrounding the refuge. Most of the birds we found were in USDA – NRCS easement areas and in the Yellow Creek Conservation Area, which is bottomland forest habitat. We didn’t count quite as many birds as usual in our section of the circle, mainly due to the noisy walking through ice and crust on roads and through the 2 miles of recently flooded area we walked through. It was still a very enjoyable day and we had several highlights including Rusty Blackbirds, many Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, many Red-headed Woodpeckers, and wonderful observations of Northern Harriers.

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