The rain held off all day Saturday as we birded Busch and Weldon Spring CAs in St. Charles CountyBy my count we tallied an even 60 species, and highlights included:

  4 RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, in keeping with the season's trend.  There was 1 on the Busch Fallen Oak Trail and 3 more in the conifers at lake 6.  1 of the lake 6 birds was shuttling between the conifers and a scraggly tree lakeside, apparently caching seed.
--  1 RUSTY BLACKBIRD along the Blue Grosbeak Trail (BGT).  Nice scope study.
--  2 PURPLE FINCH, also on the BGT.  The male had a beautiful raspberry sauce color and the female was close by.  Just before departing she sang a short, sweet, syrupy two-note slur.
--  1 SEDGE WREN at the Busch shorebird area.  I first called it a Marsh Wren, but soon realized it wasn't.  Christian Hagenlocher's good photos support the c
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orrect ID.  Certainly a late date for this species, but not quite a record for Missouri.
1 BALD EAGLE over Busch lake 33.
--  2 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK in Busch.
--  5 RED-SHOULDERED HAWK.  We saw 2 adults perched together at Busch lake 35; 1 heard-only at the shorebird area; 1 more adult perched on a utility wire along hwy 94; 1 immature bird soaring over the BGT.

As I drove west on I-64 in the morning twilight, doing 60-MPH birding, I spotted 1 BARRED OWL perched, in all places, on a sapling between the shoulder and frontage road.  That was near the Dierberg's office building, just west of Olive.

Thanks to Rosanne Naunheim, part-time participant Saturday, who tipped us to WILSON'S SNIPE.  We relocated all 8 at Busch lake 8.  The flock was nervous, but we had good scope looks.  At the same place, Anne Kirkpatrick showed us the GREAT HORNED OWL nest, now uninhabited.

Also for the day:  2 BELTED KINGFISHER; 1 at lake 8 and another at lake 6; 4 PILEATED WOODPECKER; 2 EASTERN MEADOWLARK at the Katy Trail access; 60+ CEDAR WAXWING; plus large movements of BLUE JAY and AMERICAN ROBIN across a wide area.

There were just a few chickadees for the day, and 1, along the BGT, struck me as a CAROLINA CHICKADEE:  a petite chickadee with clean-cut bib, no visible white on the wings or buff on the underparts, and sounding an up-tempo "dee-dee-dee-dee."  Also along the BGT, 4 NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD congregated on the trail-side end of the "northern shrike" hedge.  They responded quickly to pishing, as did the sparrows and 1 EASTERN TOWHEE.  We looked carefully there, and elsewhere on the trail, but did not see a Harris's.

The mammal highlight had to be the pair of WHITE-TAILED DEER we disturbed -- unintentionally -- near the Busch shorebird area:  an 8-point buck and doe.

participation was 15 birders, with 3 of us finishing the day on the BGT.

Pat Lueders kindly volunteered to enter CACHE data.

And a special thanks to Jeannie Moe for offering us the hospitality of the Weldon Spring Interpretive Center where we had a comfortable place to warm up and have lunch.

For the St. Louis Audubon Society,

Mike Thelen
University City,
St. Louis County, MO
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