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Ensley Bottoms Complex
Mud Lake - Cocklebur Lake
Presidents Island - Robco Lake
T. O. Fuller State Park - T.V.A. Lake
and Environs

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MAV

Shelby County

Note:  The Ensley Bottoms Complex is part of the IBA site, Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Tennessee.

Black-necked Stilt

Photo by Carl Wirwa

From a beginning of a pair nesting for the first time at Ensley Bottoms on July 4, 1982 to over 200 birds present today, the Black-necked Stilt is one of over 25 shorebird species that call Ensley Bottoms "home" at some time during the year.

Location: In the southwest corner of Memphis, bordered on the west by the Mississippi River and Crittenden County, Arkansas, and on the south by De Soto County, Mississippi, in Shelby County, Tennessee.
Physiographic Province: PIF 05 (Mississippi Alluvial Valley); BCR 26 (Mississippi Alluvial Valley)
Tennessee IBA Site Map - Ensley Bottoms.bmp (80006 bytes)
Geographical Coordinates:
    McKellar Lake--Lat. 350436N  Long. 0900727W
    Mud Lake--Lat. 345945N  Long. 0901226W
    Presidents Island Number Forty-five--Lat. 350615N  Long. 0900753W
    Robco Lake--Lat. 350014N  Long. 0900719W
    T. O. Fuller State Park--Lat. 0900708N  Long. 0900708W
Elevation Range: 178' - 282'
    184' McKellar Lake
    194' Mud Lake
    217' Presidents Island Number Forty-five
    223' Robco Lake
    282' T. O. Fuller State Park
Size: acres
USGS 7.5’ quad: Lake Cormorant, SW Memphis

Description: The site is contains sludge treatment ponds, fields for drying sludge, some agricultural experimental plots, industrial area, agricultural fields, lakes, grasslands, and bottomland forest. Includes McKellar Lake, Earth Complex ("The Pits"), Mud Lake, Cocklebur Lake, Presidents Island Number Forty-five, T.V.A. Lake, Robco Lake, and T. O. Fuller State Park (1,138 acres).

IBA Criteria: 4a, 4d

Ornithological Importance:  This is the most important shorebird site in Tennessee and one of the most important inland shorebird sites in the southeast. In addition, waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) number into the thousands and the Mississippi River is a major migration corridor for "countless" American White Pelicans, raptors, wading birds, gulls, and terns. American White Pelican numbers include: November 26, 2002 (184), October 18, 2003 (2,033 migrating), October 9-10, 2004 (1,000), and  October 30, 2004 (1,425). Raptors are observed year-round. Migrants use the Mississippi River as a migration corridor. Numbers include: November 28, 2002--Four species including Red-tailed Hawk (14) and Golden Eagle (1 immature). September 26, 2003--Nine raptor species in less than an hour including Broad-winged Hawk (27). Red-tailed Hawk: October 30, 2004 (37 migrating). Mississippi Kites are present during the summer. A Northern Harrier summer date, June 8, 2002 (1 female) is unusual. Peregrine Falcon is regularly present during the migration periods. Wading birds can number into the hundreds. Examples are: Great Egret--October 1, 2004 (96), and Wood Stork--August 26, 2001 (300+), August 24, 2002 (51), and August 31, 2003 (18). Gulls occur in significant numbers. Examples are: Franklin's Gull--October 31, 2004 (374), and Ring-billed  Gull--December 11, 2002 (652+). Lark Sparrow, a Tennessee In Need of Management species, was observed September 21, 2003 (1). Lapland Longspur numbers include December 11, 2002 (500). Painted Bunting nests and is the major site for the species in Tennessee.
    Note 1. Waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) number in the thousands all winter and more during the migration periods. Numbers include: Greater and Lesser scaups (2,000); December 5, 2005 (1,000's ducks + cormorants). Geese: November 20, 2004 (1,619) migrating; Greater White-fronted Goose--October 30, 2004 (414) and October 31, 2004 (450); and Snow Goose--October 30, 2004 (1,079) and October 31, 2004 (205). Double-crested Cormorant occurs in significant numbers: November 28, 2002 (300) and October 4, 2003 (1,072).
    Note 2. Shorebird numbers rival no other area in Tennessee and perhaps no other inland site in the southeast. As of August 16, 2003, there have been 28 flagged shorebirds observed at Ensley Bottoms representing banding locations of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Guyana!
        High Number of shorebird species: August 10, 2002 (14 species), August 15, 2002 (18 species), August 22, 2002 (17 species), September 7, 2002 (16), September 19, 2002 (17 species), May 17, 2003 (20 species), August 9, 2003 (15 species), August 23, 2003 (15 species), August 30, 2003 (16 species), August 31, 2003 (18 species), September 14, 2003 (20 species), September 20, 2003 (16 species),  April 24, 2004 (16 species), May 16, 2004 (18 species), October 9-10, 2004 (17 species), May 7, 2005 (16 species), May 12, 2005 (17 species),
        High Number of shorebird individuals: August 10, 2002 (3,500), August 27, 2002 (2,000), October 8, 2002 (2,000), July 12, 2003 (2,000), August 9, 2003 (7,627), May 2, 2004 (6,000), August 7, 2004 (7,000+), May 12, 2005 (4,000),
High Numbers by species:
    Semipalmated Plover: April 24, 2004 (11), May 2, 2004 (48).
    Killdeer: November 28, 2002 (342), July 12, 2003 (441), September 1, 2003 (500), July 31-August 1, 2004 (524),
    Black-necked Stilt: On July 4, 1982 there was one pair and the first nest found at Ensley Bottoms. Twenty years later on July 4, 2002, there were 233 individuals of all ages and sizes (211 from one sweep) + 29 nests. Numbers: June 23, 2002 (141), July 3, 2004 (137+ adults and "too many young to count,"), July 31-August 1, 2004 (65 adults + 84 young), 
    Solitary Sandpiper: April 27, 2002 (52), April 27, 2002 (78), April 24, 2004 (217), May 2, 2004 (241).
    Greater Yellowlegs: October 8, 2002 (84).
    Lesser Yellowlegs: August 15, 2002 (132), April 27, 2002 (469), May 17, 2003 (47), April 13, 2004 (624), April 24, 2004 (1,630+), July 31-August 1, 2004 (45),
    Semipalmated Sandpiper: May 17, 2003 (314), May 17, 2004 (700+), July 31-August 1, 2004 (365),
    Least Sandpiper: April 27, 2002 (524), November 28, 2002 (722+), May 17, 2003 (245), July 12, 2003 (1,410), August 23, 2003 (about 5,000), September 1, 2003 (3,000), May 2, 2004 (3,540), July 31-August 1, 2004 (1,135), November 6, 2004 (3,000+), December 9, 2004 (1,000+),
    White-rumped Sandpiper: May 17, 2003 (191), May 17, 2004 (35).
    Pectoral Sandpiper: April 27, 2002 (858), August 23, 2003 (2,500+), April 11, 2004 (933), July 31-August 1, 2004 (1,060),
    Dunlin: May 17, 2003 (21), November 6, 2004 (100).
    Stilt Sandpiper: August 15, 2002 (41), October 8, 2002 (54), July 31-August 1, 2004 (32), 
    Buff-breasted Sandpiper: September 6, 1996 (65), September 7, 2002 (22),
    Long-billed Dowitcher: April 24, 2004 (15).

Site Criteria

Species/
Group

Season1

Avg. No Season

Max. No. Season

Years of Data

Source2

4a               

Waterfowl (See Note 1 above.)

W, SM, FM                             

1,000's

1,000's

1989-2005

6, 7a, 7b

4d

Shorebirds (See Note 2 above.)

W, SM, FM

1,000's (at one time)

7,000+ (at one time)

1972-2005

6, 7a, 7b

Season1   B = Breeding, W = Wintering, SM = Spring Migration, FM = Fall Migration
Source 2  1-Atlas Breeding Birds of Tennessee 2-Breeding Bird Surveys 3-Christmas Bird Counts
4-Point Counts 5-Refuge Counts 6-Personal observations (Martha Waldron)
7-Other (a-Tennessee Ornithological Society survey b-Jeff Wilson)

Ownership:  Memphis/Shelby County Port Commission 
   Contact:  Memphis/Shelby County Port Commission, 1115 Riverside, Memphis, TN 38106, 901-948-4422.

Conservation Concerns:

Management Program:  None.

Submitted by:  Martha Waldron, 1626 Yorkshire Drive, Memphis, TN 38119, 901-761-0895, martha.waldron@stlouis.cdom.org

Additional Contributors:  

Approved under the umbrella IBA site Mississippi Alluvial Valley:  February 2006--Yes 7  No 0


This page was last updated on 02/19/06.