May 09, 2007

Big(ger than usual) Muddy

138 purple martin
139 blackpoll warbler
140 yellow-billed cuckoo
141 gray catbird
142 eastern wood-pewee
143 Eurasian tree sparrow
(total on this date in 2006: 107)

MAY 8, POINT DU SABLE PARK, sunny, 70—In St. Charles I accumulate as many ticks as birds walking a new 100-acre Missouri River park. This is work, but I seem to be performing it mainly through binoculars.

The big surprise (besides a blackpoll warbler, a life bird) is the Eurasian tree sparrow, an introduced species that in all of North America lives only in the St. Louis area.

Because the sparrow's range is so irregular, last year I made a special trip to a St. Louis neighborhood by following directions on the Internet. I'd been thinking about another Eurasian mission this year, but today two flew up to the huge concrete pillars of the Interstate 370 bridge spanning the park and river. Strange that the Eurasian tree sparrow may be the rarest bird I'll see all year, but with a little effort a sighting is guaranteed.

The Missouri River is high from a month of rain but has fallen two feet in the past day. That will change shortly when floodwaters from torrential rains—produced by the same storm as the Greensburg, Kan. tornado—roll downstream from Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and northwest Missouri.

The predicted height next weekend for St. Charles isn't on par with the Flood of '93, a flood that earned capital letters, but close to 1986 and 1995 levels.

If that sounds like a lot of major floods in a short time, it is. The Missouri River channel is so engineered with wing dikes and levees that a not-unusual spring rise now forces towns to sandbag against disaster. I vote for restoring wetlands next to the river.


Post a Comment

<< Home