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MoBirders,
I made a mistake today and found myself with a bonus day off, so I disregarded the advice of experts and went to Busch over Columbia Bottoms (sic).  Took my time wandering around, which gave me a lot of time to reminisce.  Where would I go for the next set of target birds?  In the old days, Jim and Charlene led all the Audubon walks (in state and out) doing all the logistics - I just dinked around behind them.  I was always jealous of the many seasonal firsts and first of the area birds that they found and documented (successfully); not many people sheparded that many records past the MBRC.  I was laughing about the time Charlene put together the trips for the spring ASM meeting and put me in charge of leading one group, like I knew what I was doing.  Good luck with that one.  We had many a long discussion on the state of local birding, and when they started doing the seasonal reports we shared food over the discussion of the reported sightings.  I don't remember a cross word during the time they put together the scientific criteria for the recommendation of our favorite birding areas as IBAs.  I actually was inspired to contribute something beyond the latest sighting of a PALM WARBLER (try the 3rd week in April; http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=38.735071,-90.757456&spn=0.033074,0.051241&t=h&z=14), and my birding days have suffered.  But I was never going to a real expert- someone who could discuss the molt pattern of every family of birds, or who could ID a bird from the shortest of chips (I am still amazed at the PHd student and his finding the Black-throated Blue Warbler on the basis of a single chip). The best I can hope for is to become acquainted with the local 3 or 4 hundred birds; not impressive given the existence of 10000 species.  I thought about going to a Holiday Inn, but you know, I don't think it really works that way.  I did spend some time in an autopsy lab and according to Fox News, where everyday they present the same people as experts in a new area, I could probably qualify for a surgical residency- but again I am too old to worry about it.  I once did an archaeology dig with an expert in field mice and he could name the species based on a single bone. 

At Busch, I had a Pine Warbler at the trail junction (where the sign goes Fishless Pond, Short Loop, Long Loop) and a Common Loon at Lake 33.  

I crossed back over to Blue Grosbeak and with the dog (pedigreed of course) I kicked through the fields looking for sparrows.  The dog is okay, but no expert.  She can point to the pictures okay, but she has trouble with the flight characteristics of the different species.  I once had a long discussion with the Malone's on my personal rubric that I use to identify all the sparrows just by the head pattern.  I still get confused, but I am getting more confident.  My confusion is somewhat the results of books- the old edition of the Golden guide showed the White-throated sparrow as sexually dimorphic; the distinguishing mark was the color of the stripe. It wasn't until I read a recent paper on the mating patterns (success and preferences) that I finally straighten that little problem out.  Of course, now I am confused: is the white stripped sparrow the more aggressive or is it the tan-striped?  Anyway, the preferred pattern, and most successful, is matings across the color stripes.  But I digress.  Dog and I are looking for sparrows--I kick out one that I think is a likely LeConte's (http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=38.700449,-90.704938&spn=0.002068,0.003203&t=h&z=18)  and I remind Dog that if it goes right when it lands it is LESP, straight is NSTS, and to the left if HESP.  I don't know if she believed me.

It was, of course, very hot, so I thought I would wander out to the spot where I generally find the FOS Falcate Orangetip and/or Red Admiral.  We had to cross a bit of field and as I looked at the flowers I was smiling, anticipating the weekend rambles with my friends who will pretend to be experts and quote me the binominal latin names and the several variations of the common names, and I will pretend to be ignorant and that I have never heard of such a thing; we both carry a truth in the silent depths of our hearts and in those depths we are both right.  Years ago, my mentor (first of many) groused over name changes, but he knew all the latin and never fumbled for the names.  Of course, he was a male; as I got older I often harken to my readings of Mark Twain's Diary of Adam and Eve.  Names are not always everything, and occasionally they are nothing.

I found an Orangetip-the dog's pedigree does not extend to butterflies and she just ignored them.  But she has a real pedigree, honest.

It was a pleasant few hours in a suddenly too hot day.  I had to take extra care to water the dog and myself; later, while working in my other job, I had to pretend once more that I knew what I was doing.  Sometimes the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.

And just so we are clear--yes, this is a shot.

There is pedigree, and there is paper.

Good Birding
Dave Rogles
[log in to unmask]
St. Charles Co.

My first license plate read 'MSNTHP'.  If I see you birding and I walk away, please don't follow.




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