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As nearly 30 of us collected in the chilly weather on the morning of the
first of November, we little realized that we had several treats in store
for us!

The first pleasant surprise was that some of us were able to meet Jim
Wilson, who used to lead these walks; he had come to conduct classes for
UMSL at the Visitors Center. It was even more of a pleasure to see him
being recognized, that evening, as an Outstanding Educator at the St.Louis
Audubon Society annual dinner.

I began a little early at the suspension bridge near the Grand Basin, and
was rewarded by the sight of a cute Downy Woodpecker, quite literally,
"peckish" for its breakfast; I was thrilled to spot a White-crowned
Sparrow; a lone Green Heron rewarded my wait at the stream.

Mark and Amy led the walk past the Bradford pear trees where Green Herons
nest regularly,  and we watched several European Starlings, and American
Robins, representing two continents, but flocking together in amity as they
flew around, foraging for food.

Mark and Amy decided to walk along the Boat House and the Post-Dispatch
Lake, and this proved to be a very good decision indeed.  We watched some
Mallards, and got some information about the way ducks breed into so many
forms that classification is difficult. A Common Grackle sat on top of a
Cottonwood, and while we watched the ducks (alas, no Wood Duck sightings
the entire morning!), we spotted a Grebe fishing, and  a Kildeer at the
same spot on the bank across the lake. A Belted Kingfisher delighted us
with its cross-lake fishing. We saw some rather olive-looking Goldfinches.
A Blue Heron winged its way over us, and a Red-tailed Hawk, that had been
sitting on the branches of one of the trees, also soared above us.
Red-tailed Blackbirds demonstrated their "typical" songs, as did some
Mockingbirds.  The songs enabled us to try and practice the "birding by
ear" that Bob Bailey had talked to us about at the meet on Thursday
evening.

Close scrutiny of the farther banks also yielded a Kestrel, and we'd
already spent so much time with all these treats that we had to double back
and return.

The bird list was:

Blackbird, Red-winged
Cardinal, Northern
Crow, American
Dove, Mourning
Egret, Great
Finch, House
Flicker, Northern
Goldfinch, American
Goose, Canada
Grebe, Pied-billed
Hawk, Red-tailed
Heron, Great Blue
Heron, Green
Jay, Blue
Junco, Dark-eyed
Kestrel, American
Killdeer
Kingfisher, Belted
Mallard
Mockingbird, Northern
Pigeon, Rock
Sparrow, House
Sparrow, White-crowned
Starling, European
Titmouse, Tufted
Woodpecker, Downy
Woodpecker, Red-headed

(The list is on eBird at

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20443218

on the net.)

Cheers, and wishing everyone the best for the festive season ahead...as I
fly off home to warmer climes!

Deepa.

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