The forecast for thunderstorms and heavy rain looked ominous, but the bad weather held off long enough to provide some good birding for our first workshop at the locally renowned Ensley Bottoms site in southwest Memphis. The greater-Memphis birding community made a tremendous showing, as the attendance for the workshop swelled to more than forty participants (from as far away as Knoxville, TN), including four young birders! We would especially like to thank the Memphis Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society both for helping to organize the event and for providing expert assistance with the field component of the workshop.
The workshop consisted of both classroom and field components. With such a large attendance, participants were divided into two groups–one started indoors with a presentation from Jason Hoeksema on identification of shorebirds, and the other group started in the field, led by Gene Knight, JR Rigby, and Wayne Patterson (with an assist from Mike Todd and Jay Walko). Shorebirding in the rain was made easier by a series of tailgating tents set up at key points along the levees bordering the ponds:
The birding was quite entertaining, with plenty of shorebirds to study, including comparisons of Least vs. Semipalmated & Western Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, a juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher, and 10 other shorebird species. In addition, Black Terns and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks provided steady entertainment. Altogether, it was a delightful time at “The Pits” for all. Ensley Bottoms truly is a special place for the wind birds in our region.
For additional photos from the event, please see this album on our Flickr site.