Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ensley Bottoms Memphis Tennessee

Its been awhile since I posted.  I've been experiencing a birding drought for over a month.  I  had a business meeting in Memphis so I took a day before and went birding.  Whenever I take a trip, I review all the current web posting for the area that I plan to visit.  If I find someone who posts often I will typically send them an email.  This time was no different.   I found a birder that posted to the Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas e-bird lists.   He immediately got back to me and gave me several locations to visit.  Thanks to Jeff Wilson aka Ole Coot at  

He suggested the City of Memphis waterwater treatment drying fields called Ensley Bottoms.  I have visited Ensley Bottoms on several occasions.  If you've never been to Ensley, its a great place to bird. However, as its dry beds, the smell isn't overwhelmingly pleasant.  The birds don't really care though.  Plenty of bugs for them.  Shore bird numbers, in particular, have been high each time I have visited.  There are usually good numbers of sparrows and an occasional surprise passerine too.  Unfortunately I was about a month early for migration, but I saw 44 species, but no life birds.  Plenty of first of the year birds though.  The wind was steady at between 15 and 25 mph with gusts even higher so the peeps were laying low. 

Its already very dry in Memphis so there were a lot of birds congregating in small pools.     

 Black Necked Stilt

Great bird, but really a hassle to have around if you are skulking to try to get a photo.  They spook before every other bird and then they scare all the other peeps.  Errrrr!  I missed a really good shot of a Wilson's Snipe because of you Mr. Killdeer. 

 Least Sandpiper

There were 100s of small shorebirds feeding together in the drying beds. The least is only slightly smaller then a Western or Semipalmated so I have a difficult time picking the odd ones out. Most of the birds were least.

Western Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Long-billed Dowitcher
I've got an itch.

Pectoral Sandpiper

 Solitary Sandpiper

 Stilt Sandpiper

Wilson's Phalarope

Fascinating bird to watch feed.  At first I thought there was something wrong with it.  Caged animals when stressed walk around in circles.  The WP uses this technique to get the bugs to come to the surface.  I watched it walk around in a circle for 1/2.. around and around we go!  I started to get dizzy.  I think it was creating a slight whirlpool.  Hmm interesting! 

So you walk around in circles get dizzy and sick to your stomach, eat (wait the 1/2 before getting back in the water) Yes I'm still afraid my mother will yell at me if I don't wait the 1/2 hour after eating.  I digressed.   Have fun watching!


Jen said...

Wow, that's actually a pretty nice selection of shorebirds for pre-migration! Very nice, I assume with spring kicking in your birding drought will end? Hopefully?

dAwN said...

Wow..Super photos~Looks like you had a very productive trip!