The Swamp Candle Birders' field trip to Trail of Tears SP was graced with wonderful weather (minus some gusty winds nearer the Miss. River) and 4 participants thoroughly enjoyed great looks as some great (albeit expected) birds! We were happy to have someone along that was fairly new-to-birding; thanks for joining us today Katie!

It would appear that many eggs have hatched throughout the entire state park. Several immature birds observed today included Kentucky Warblers and Orchard Oriole as well as observed insects being brought to a Baltimore Oriole nest. At the entrance first thing were two juvenile Barred Owls softly screeching for me to hurry and leave the area (observed prior to other birders arrival).

We began the day at the swimming lake (being renovated) where we were treated to close looks at a Great Crested Flycatcher as well as a male Summer Tanager. It appeared that two Chimney Swifts were contemplating the possibility of nesting in the Privy vents there at the swimming lake parking lot.

We then went up to the Miss. River overlook platform where in the parking lot area, we could hear a Worm-eating Warbler calling from inside the adjacent densely vegetated ravine - no visual though. From the platform, an even closer (than swimming lake) male Summer Tanager called none stop the twenty plus minutes we were present. Other birds observed from this vantage point were (potentially nesting) Turkey Vultures on the exposed cliff face (located north of the platform, MO side), a lone immature Bald Eagle soaring on thermals, a flyby Northern Rough-winged Swallow at eye level, and a couple calling Fish Crows over the river as well as other expected/common species. Overall, the platform area was pretty slow compared to past trips, but it was still a great time seeing the regulars.

From there we went down to the river campgrounds/boat ramp area where we picked up calling Prothonotary Warblers, a plethora of orioles, Chipping Sparrows, (4 minimum) Warbling Vireos, (2) Yellow-throated Warblers as well as other common species for that area. A juvenile Orchard Oriole was perched in the chain-link fence as both male and female Orchard Orioles tended it's cries for food. It was truly amazing the number of Baltimore Orioles observed throughout the park today. A conservative guesstimate for the river campground alone was a minimum of 10 Baltimore Oriole adults present with several of these birds carrying foodstuffs to the nests indicating multiple hatch-lings. There was much chasing away of Brown-headed Cowbirds. We were able to track down a very vocal Yellow-throated Warbler for all to see . . . high, high in the Cottonwood and Sycamore trees. A couple of us also had the good fortune to see (however brief) a female Scarlet Tanager temporarily out in the open of the campgrounds.

We concluded the field trip with a hike on the trail behind the Visitor Center. Along the trail were calling Acadian & Great Crested Flycatchers, E. Wood Peewees, Kentucky Warblers (feeding young); Katie picked up on the crescendo call of an Ovenbird; Worm-eating Warbler was heard as were many other woodland species including haunting verses of flute-like calls from a minimum of 4-6 Wood Thrushes - truly, like silk to this birder's soul!

In summation, Wood Thrushes and Kentucky Warblers were observed everywhere we visited today at Trail of Tears SP. At the river campgrounds, we were treated to an amazing chorus of overlapping calls of many orioles of both species, Warbling Vireos and Indigo Buntings. A wonderful variety of calling and visual birds abounded today! As always, a special thanks goes out to the staff that maintain and manage our public lands for the benefits of wildlife and our opportunity to have a place to explore the wonder of nature!

A few images of some of the birds observed today (including the ratty looking immature Orchard Oriole) can be viewed at the below Swamp Candle Birders facebook page. Two bonus images include a large dung beetle (scarab) yet to be identified for the entoms in the group:

If you don't have a facebook account, I have also uploaded the images to my Webshots page:

The full list of species can be found at below link: Scroll down to "Trail of Tears SP" with the 6/3/12 date.

Good Birding!

Chris Barrigar
Bloomfield, MO
Stoddard Co.
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