Birders drawn to Sardis Lake for variety of gulls and ducks 1/3/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 3, 2014

Birders drawn to Sardis Lake for variety of gulls and ducks

By John Howell Sr.
The hordes of winter visitors at the Sardis Lower Lake celebrated New Year’s Day much like any other winter morning of the last few weeks.

Some swooped and swirled above the cold water, occasionally diving to the water’s surface to snatch a small fish from the calm surface. Others — the big white pelicans especially — floated on the lake surface, swimming forward at the minimum pace necessary to remain stationary against the Little Tallahatchie River’s downstream flow.

J. R. Rigby of Oxford was there to see more than the daily aerial and aquatic choreography. The cool, clear morning that began 2014 brought him out to sort through the avian menagerie with spotting scope and binoculars to examine the individual birds, separating those frequently seen from those whose sighting on the waters of the Mississippi reservoir would be out of the ordinary.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

There were about 15 species of water birds on the Lower Lake Wednesday morning, Rigby said. Most are winter visitors. Gulls are the most numerous. Three species were represented.

Ducks on the lake surface include Mallards, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Mergansers, he said.
Rigby said that his interest in birds began about a year ago. At his day job he is a hydrologist with the U.S.D.A. at the National Sedimentation Lab. His holiday birding visits took him to Ballentine Road on Tuesday where large Sandhill Cranes have arrived in recently harvested fields and also to Arkabutla Reservoir.

Rigby is a member of a fledging — pun intended — organization of birders, Delta Wind Birds. Their interest is promoting habitat for shore birds in the Delta, including duck habitat. The organization will soon complete its web site,

On January 25, the organization is sponsoring a sparrow workshop. There are 13 species wintering in Mississippi, Rigby said. For additional information contact Delta Wind Birds at its e-mail,