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Hey all,

Got up early this morning planning to go hiking with the wife at Three
Creeks CA since the last time we went she wasn't expecting hiking and wore
sandals.  As I said in my post last night, yesterday we met Howard Hinkel
(President of CAS) and he suggested we bird the Columbia Audubon Nature
Area, a barely-marked 20-ish acre tract of forest in the middle of Columbian
suburbia.  He mentioned that CAS is trying to build a list up for that area,
so I thought we'd check it out.

First things first...if you go there, take bug spray and wear long pants. 
There is a trail that is relatively well-mowed, but I still got covered in
seed ticks (first larval, very nasty...).

Now for the good part: this place was a bird haven.  A large majority of the
trail consists of (big word) riparian forest.  In all, we saw 41 species
just giving the park a once-over in a little over 2 hours.  It was pretty
incredible.  There were warblers (Yellow, Northern Parula, and
Black-and-White), Red- and White-eyed Vireo, flycatchers everywhere (Least,
Acadian, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Eastern Phoebe, possible Willow), and even
a sizable flock of Cedar Waxwings, which is one of my absolute favorite
species (2nd to Tufted Titmouse).  The best spots by far were FOY
Black-and-white Warbler and lifer Least Flycatcher.  The best part was these
birds basically flew right in front of me.  The LEFL startled me, flying in
from behind me and landing on a thin branch about 3 feet from my head,
letting out several irritated reports and flying about 10 feet down the
trail and lighting again.  The miniscule size and huge white eye ring were a
dead give-away.  He was impressively cooperative.  The BAWW was a bit
tricky.  My wife and I sat down on one of the many well-placed benches along
the trail to see what may come as things were hopping at the time.  I
happened to look back and see a little zebra-striped bird flitting around
the tree behind the bench.  Again...not 3 feet from my head.  It's as if
they were begging to be found.  I would recommend it to others, but I think
CAS permission must be sought or given.  Still, I hope this advertisement is
well-received and more attention is given to the park.  It's a beautiful
unspoiled wilderness in the middle of what would otherwise be a regular ole
neighborhood.

Next, we went to Three Creeks CA.  Entering through Tomlin Hill Rd rather
than Deer Park (where my father-in-law and I saw many many birds in early
July), we hiked down to the creek, expecting a few miles of trail.  When we
got down there, we were disappointed to find the trail basically dead-ends
into the creek.  On examining the map more closely, we found that the trail
does continue on the other side, but there's no way to safely cross the
creek without a swim suit and water shoes or waders.  Kind of a let-down,
but I did get good looks at a pair of Yellow Warbler and added a
Black-billed Cuckoo (heard, not seen) to the day list.  Also found a flock
of 'party birds' (Chickadees and Titmice) at the top of the hill, which is
always fun to watch, Titmice being my favorite species.

To round out the afternoon in hopes of a "Boone County Big Day", we drove
through Sonic to get refreshments and headed out to Eagle Bluffs for the 2nd
time in 24 hours in hopes of relocating the American Avocets and other
shorebirds seen yesterday.  As Peter Kondrashov already posted, the Avocets
seem to have taken up temporary residence at the back of Pool 14, finding it
replete with food supplies and safety in numbers.  Numbers were down
relative to yesterday evening, to be expected at mid-day.  The Avocets were
busy swishy fishing on the same island I saw them last night; as Peter said,
best viewed from the turn-around at the back of the Sapp Tract.  Pool 10 is
drying up rapidly, which is probably why the Moorhens and Sora are gone from
there, probably deeper in the reeds where the water is still deep.  Their
loss is the shorebirds gain, and the one-way loop along Pool 10 was still
the best place for viewing shorebirds at short distances.  I got great looks
at Least, Spotted, Pectoral, Semi-palmated, and 1 Baird's Sandpiper (lifer)
as well as a pair of Lesser Yellowlegs and several Killdeer.  The Killdeer
have taken to shepherding the Least Sandpipers around Pool 10 and even
chased off a snacking Blue-Winged Teal to make way for the little guys.  It
was all pretty amusing at face value and fascinating if you really think
about it.  I saw similar behavior of Ring-billed Gulls seemingly shepherding
a sizable flock of Sanderlings on the coast last summer.  Really interesting
stuff!  On the way back out, we saw the pair of Caspian Terns also reported
by Peter sitting on a mudflat in the Distribution Channel.

In all, we saw 65 species today, including 2 lifers, an FOY, and some really
cool spots of a variety of different bird species.  Anyone *not* out
enjoying this weather needs to take 5 minutes tomorrow
morning/afternoon/evening and just stand/sit outside and take it all in.

Cheers and good birding,
Chase & Katie Darr
Columbia, Boone Co., MO
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