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My birthday treat to myself was a day of birding. A weekday one is indeed a real treat.
 
I took 270, 255, and Route 3 to Red Bud, IL. After looking at lots of white shopping bags and some white plastic pipes, I saw that one of the pipes moved. A fine adult Snowy Owl that has resided just east of Red Bud, Randolph County, Illinois for a few weeks. It was north of Ohlwine Road, 1.3 miles west of South Prairie Road. Sitting in a clump of brown grass stalks. It was actually very close to Route 154 but not visible from there. I could only see it from Ohlwine Road. Barely visible with binoculars but seen to yawn through the telescope. It being the second Thursday of the month, I repaired to the Pentecostal church on Route 154. It was selling its fundraising dinners. Roast pork rather than the usual chicken and dumplings, so I really lucked out. It seemed a fine way to celebrate the sighting of the owl. The pastor was aware of the bird but preferred to talk about his own flying experiences. He had built a small gyrocopter. The original
 gyrocopter was built by the great uncle of my birding companion of almost 30 years. Small world indeed!
 
The priaries were swarming with raptors. Lots and lots of kestrels, as well as R-t Hawks and Harriers (including two males). Turkey Vultures were heading north.
 
Baldwin Lake yielded tens of thousand of Snowy Geese, almost all of them quite well hidden in the grassy area marked for their not-to-be-disturbed rest and recreation. The few smalls groups flying around did not contain any Ross' Geese. There were 9 White-fronted Geese, including one immature with its unblackened belly.
 
My first Snowy Owl since last year, an immature female seen in New Jersey at Thanksgiving. However, nice as it was, it was not as satisfying as the baby Snowy Owl I saw in Scotland almost 40 years ago. For a brief few years, a pair nested in Shetland and my one and only visit there happened during that time period.
 
Mick RIchardson
St Louis County.
 

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