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I spent about an hour at Rock Hill State Park at lunch today.  For those
asking yourselves "Where the h*** is Rock Hill State Park?", it's a small
stretch of trail that follows a creekbed east of the Mizzou campus.  The
easiest access to it is the North side of the Veterinary School parking lot
off Rollins.

I was expecting to see a few wrens and phoebes, which I did see.  However, I
was not expecting to get a lifer!  I had walked the meager 3/4 mile trail to
its exit into a small neighborhood and walked back when I heard indistinct
chatter in a tree above me.  I looked up expecting a Red-bellied or Downy
woodpecker, but to my surprise, staring around a narrow limb was a
black-faced, red-chinned bird.  When our eyes met, he immediately ducked
behind the limb as I clambered for my binoculars.  He hopped up a few feet,
peeked back around, and sure enough, there it was: a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker!

From reading a book, one might think these birds are really common, but in
all my childhood years living in the woods I have never seen one before.

They really are pretty birds, but this one had sort of an attitude.  He
hopped around to the bottom side of the limb and promptly took a dump, which
landed about 2 feet from me.  I decided that was a message to move on, so on
I went.

Other notables were a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a pair of Ruby-crowned Kinglets
and a pair of Louisiana Waterthrushes doing a call-and-response through the
woods.  I got a *great* look at one, who landed in a tree about eye-level
not 20 feet from me and called multiple times.  I saw a 2nd one up one of
the tributary creek beds, but it ducked away under a root pretty quickly.

I didn't expect much from this trail given its dilapidated (and
snake-infested) state, but it turned out to be a great outing!

Be aware there was a 3-foot long black snake with white underbelly at the
bottom of the trail hidden in some ivy.  I spooked it twice (once on the way
in, once on the way out) and it moved *really* fast.  It sounded like
someone pulling a garden hose through tall grass.  Quite a nerve-racking
experience, even for someone who's at peace with the scarier parts of nature.

Cheers and good birding,
Chase Darr
Columbia, MO

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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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