If you don't recognize my name, it's because it's been a loooong time since I last posted. A series of life changes over the last two years has taken away from my birding time, but it hasn't taken away from my passion for birds. I'm currently enjoying a two week break between semesters, and I've made a point to get out and check out some of the trails around Springfield. Today, I went to Bois d'Arc Conservation Area in Greene County and had a very good afternoon birding. I assumed it would be a wooded area, and it is, but when I got there, I discovered that a large part of the hiking area has been turned into glade. Even though I arrived at 12:30, there was quite a bit of bird activity. I was greeted almost immediately by an eastern towhee singing proudly from the tallest tree. I had never actually seen one in the summer before or heard one sing, so that was exciting for me. Other birds of special note were the yellow-breasted chat and the yellow-billed cuckoo, both birds I was seeing for just the second (cuckoo) or third (chat) time. The sparrows were pretty quiet, but I know that place has to be crawling with them. I did ID a field sparrow that was nice enough to pop up for several seconds. Indigo buntings were abundant. No blue grosbeaks that I can be sure of, but I did get a fleeting glance of a little brown job that I think was a female blue grosbeak. It certainly seemed to have a big schnoz. Several goldfinches were flying over the glade area. I saw several of the usual suspects in the wooded areas. One section in particular was dripping with titmice. I can only assume they have heard about the Free the Nipple Rally going on here in Springfield tomorrow and are getting their contingent together. I saw two eastern kingbirds, but one gave me pause because it didn't have that clean border between the black and white on its cheek. It had an overall smudgy, slightly brown appearance I don't associate with eastern kingbirds, but when it flew, I could clearly see the characteristic white tips on its tail. When I got home and checked my field guide, I determined it was a juvenile. A brown thrasher was another nice addition to the day's list. On the way to and from the CA, I spotted a few scissor-tailed flycatchers. Even after living in Springfield for the better part of two years now, I am not used to how common scissor-taileds are here. I remember jumping up and down the first time I saw one when I was still living in Jefferson City.
If you're in the general area and have never been to Bois d'Arc, I highly recommend it. There is a lot of area I didn't cover today, and I plan to go back soon. Do wear pants and bug spray. I was surprised to find that the trail is grass-covered and was rather tall. I don't seem to have suffered the hunger of any ticks, but I'm sure I'll be waking up with a swath of chigger bites tomorrow. I also got stung by a bee. Much of the trail is in the sun, so sunscreen and hats are good ideas too. (No, I didn't do any of that, of course.)
Amy J. Hoffman
Springfield, Greene County