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 Hi Everyone,

Soaring temperatures both indoors (grandchilren with fever) and
outdoors (St.Louis having summer fever, too!) kept me indoors for a
bit, but this morning, I executed a quick sneak to join Pat Leuders of
the St.Louis Audubon Society, and Amy Witt of Forest Park Forever, for
the August bird walk.

The walk on the first Saturday of each month is billed as the
Beginners' bird walk, and are proving increasingly to be walks where
even more experienced birders can learn a lot. There are  many
experienced birders in the group these days,  and their  presence
(today, we were led byf Pat Leuders from SLAS) means that even a tiny
bird like a hummingbird does not go unseen! Amy also stresses this
point, when she says that the walk is not two or three people sighting
the birds, but for everyone to share what they observe.

Another thing that I enjoy very much is that these are also nature
rambles apart from being great bird walks. We are able to see the
birds "in the picture", so to speak; we see the frogs, that are food
for many water birds; how the Barn Swallows perch in the bullrushes;
how the Goldfinch seems camoflauge in golden-yellow foliage,  how
woodpeckers thrive in both living and dead trees, and so on.

We met once again  at the intersection of Wells and Jefferson Drive
again, to explore the Steinberg Prairie Complex area.  It seemed to be
a good decision, as we started out with the Usual Gang of
Suspects...Red-headed Woodpeckers in the sycamore tree opposite where
we stood, Chimney Swifts swooping overhead. Pat talked about the
Carolina Wrens A Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the native plants bed
caught Mark;s eye, and it hovered long enough for most of us to see it
with interest. I wonder how much longer these shimmering beauties will
be with us before they move on.

We found out how the Great Blue Heron, one of the largest birds found
in the Park, can hide itself in the foliage, as we tried spotting the
bird...until it obligingly walked out on the branch, almost as if
posing for us.

There was a bit of excitement and drama as a Cooper's Hawk suddenly
zipped past us in pursuit of breakfast (which made good its escape.)

Amy talked about the seeding of the prairie that Forest Park Forever
is doing, and how, later this year, the prairie will have a once-only
"first year" look, that we should not miss.

Both scopes were set up at multiple locations,  for the birders to see
many species, but on one or two occasions, we suffered from that
distressing condition, "Avian Flew"...that is, the bird had flown out
of the scope's frame!

A sighting of the Yellow-crowned Night Heron was another interesting
highlight of the trip. I heard many people say that they've been
coming to the Park for many years, but not walked in this part of it!
For many of us in the White-haired League, it was pleasant to see that
the Victorian bridge was a little older than we were.

As a Gray Catbird drew us to the side of the path, Pat told us how
important it was to familiarize ourselves with bird calls and songs
(Bob Bailey, I thought of you!) so that our time in the outdoors could
be even more productive.

A question about the bee boxes gave us a lot of information about how
various bees live; how fertilized eggs turn into females, and
unfertilized ones into the male "drones", and how the former are
deposited deeper, away from the surface. In biting their way out, the
female bees could be helping the males find their way out, too! It was
fascinating to listen to. Not even the sight of a Belted Kingfisher
zipping past could let me interrupt this!

With such an absorbing morning, the time flew by and the time to
disperse came even before we realized it.

The physical bird list is:


Blackbird, Red-winged
Cardinal, Northern
Catbird, Gray
Crow, American
Dove, Mourning
Duck, Wood
Egret, Snowy
Flicker, Northern
Flycatcher, Great Crested
Gnatcatcher, Blue-gray
Goldfinch, American
Grackle,Common
Hawk, Cooper's
Heron, Great Blue
Heron, Green
Heron, Yellow-crowned Night
Hummingbird, Ruby-throated
Kingbird, Eastern
Kingfisher, Belted
Mallard
Martin, Purple
Nuthatch, White-breasted
Phoebe, Eastern
Robin, American
Sparrow, House
Sparrow, Song
Starling, European
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Tree
Swift, Chimney
Woodpecker, Downy
Woodpecker, Red-headed
Wren, House

I've put up the eBird list at

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24466451

And my photos of the morning (I started birding at the Suspension
Bridge area at 6.30am) are on my FB album at

https://www.facebook.com/deemopahan/media_set?set=a.10153180405488878.1073742457.587058877&type=3

Many thanks to the "scopers" and to the people who did some great
spotting of the birds! And...I heard several kind words about my
posts, which made me feel very happy, as my IQ (Ignorance Quotient) on
ths continent is quite high, and it took me quite a while to get over
my diffidence.

As my "tour of duty" comes to an end and I leave for home at the end
of the month, I will carry very happy memories of the birds and
birders, and much else, at Forest Park. Thank you!

Cheers, Deepa.

------------------------------------------------------------
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website: http://mobirds.org/
ABA Birding Code of Ethics
http://www.aba.org/about/ethics.html