By Larry Archer
It doesn’t take long before a novice birder begins to suspect that B.K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area (CA) Manager Gary Calvert is simply making up names.
“We get some odd bird species,” said Calvert, a wildlife management biologist. “We get a lot of short-eared owls. We’ll have sandhill cranes. This year we had blackbellied whistling ducks. We’ve had white-faced ibis. There’s a lot of kind of unique wetland species that use the area.”
But he’s not making things up. This 4,307-acre area, located in the Mississippi River floodplain east of Elsberry in Lincoln County, is one of MDC’s intensively managed wetlands, making it a waterfowl hunting destination in the winter and a birder’s paradise in the spring, he said.
“The area is managed for waterfowl and a suite of wetland species,” he said. “We manage for secretive marsh birds and that type thing also. We have nesting king rails on the area traditionally and nesting least bitterns, and we get a lot of other wetland species using the area.”
The area also serves as a gateway for boaters and floaters looking to ply the Mississippi River, and the area’s floodplain flatness offers photographers some great landscapes.
B.K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area consists of three tracts in Lincoln County totaling 4,307 acres. From Elsberry, take Highway 79 south 3 miles, then Route M east 3 miles to the main tract.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber
Art Director - Cliff White
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler