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     Spent a few hours Monday afternoon at Castlewood, mostly along the
River Trail. After striking out on CERULEAN WARBLER Sunday at Lost Valley, I
whiffed again Monday, so it is with some chagrin that I read Charlene found
the little blue devils Monday at LV and singing their heads off, to boot.
Seems like I'm always in the wrong place at the wrong time when it comes to
those guys. I listened to the song several times over the weekend and have
it pretty well memorized, but I never heard it in either place either day.
     Very cool and windy Monday, so not much singing or activity going on
along River Trail. Even so, got one YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER high in a
sycamore, as usual, and again had quite a few NORTHERN PARULA and BLUE-GRAY
GNATCATCHER. Heard several PROTHONOTARY WARBLER and watched one catch and
devour a nice big winged insect about 10 feet away in a persimmon tree.
Heard and saw FISH CROW, and there were about half-dozen TURKEY VULTURES
perched in a dead, Y-shaped tree across the Meramec. Flying over river saw
three kinda swallows: TREE, BARN and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED. Not much else
out of the ordinary or that I hadn't seen Sunday.
     Best bird otherwise was PILEATED WOODPECKER on the River Trail
downstream from the boat ramp. I spotted him (he had the red moustaches) as
I was detouring off the trail and starting to come down from the old ruined
water reservoir or whatever those big walls are, so I was uphill from him. I
got to watch him for quite a while looking down on him while he worked on a
fallen log. The log was really rotten, and it was amazing to see how far the
chips flew, like 5 feet, when he was hammering on it. Also got to hear him
laughing/calling and flying around to several tree trunks, probably observed
him 15 minutes in all.
     Last stop was GROTPETER TRAIL just on the park entrance side of the
road that crosses the creek via the fenced bridge, where it starts to go up
the hill behind the big soccer/ballfield. I was hoping to hear or see
WORM-EATING WARBLER. Went most of the way up the slope but didn't find any.
There was a KENTUCKY WARBLER singing along the creek, but I never saw him.
     So it will be back to work Tuesday, and probably next weekend b4 I get
another chance to look for CERULEAN or WORM-EATING. Sigh. But what's that
they say about unlucky in love? Maybe it works w/ birds, too. Despite
striking out both days on CERULEAN and Monday on WORM-EATING, I thought I
would try my luck at the Casino Queen on the way home. I don't go there
often, but as Mike Brady knows, I seem to have good luck on days I've been
birding. This was my first time there since February, at least. Bought my
usual $50 in $1 tokens and played slots. I soon hit for $150. I decided I
was willing to settle for tripling my money, but I like to leave with a
round figure in my pocket. I still had a few dollars over $150, so I decided
to drop them in the progressive slot on the off chance of winning that
$15,000. I didn't hit the really big one, but I kept hitting for $10 here,
$20 here. Then I hit for another $100. It was crazy. I actually was just
trying to lose until I had a nice round figure for my winnings, and I kept
winning. I wanted to get home to watch "The American Experience" episode
about Seabiscuit, and it was getting embarrassing. On one spin, I had two
blue 7s and was a half-turn of the reel away from the third, which would
have hit for $450. I finally cashed out at $278, and threw those extra $3 in
the progressive slot one more time just to even it out. Thank God I didn't
win again, ha ha. Walked off the boat with a tidy $225 profit and my
original $50. That eased the pain of missing the CERULEAN a bit, and I made
it home in time to see the TV show.
     And BTW, if you missed it, the documentary about Seabiscuit was
awesome! Watch for a repeat. If you haven't read the recent bestseller
"Seabiscuit: An American Legend," I highly recommend it. The documentary had
lotsa original footage from newsreels, a lotta comments from the author and
was filmed by the same people who did the feature motion picture, based on
the book, that is coming out in July and starring Toby Maguire of
"Spiderman" fame. I can't wait to see the movie, but I'll have to take a box
of Kleenex. Hell, I'm so sentimental about horse racing (the family curse)
and the whole "underdog people's champion" mystique of Seabiscuit that I
even cried during the damn documentary!
     So if you're out birding in the next month or so and see a guy crying
b/c he just saw a CERULEAN WARBLER, it's probably me. Good birding to all!

Steve Whitworth, Glen Carbon, Madison County, IL





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