05 November 2015

How do you know so much about swallows??

Being back in Missouri has some perks.  For example, the fall weather lately has been phenomenal.  Highs in the 70s... it's just plain pleasant!

Ashley and I like to hike around the property to see what's around and although we're not expecting the diversity of migrants that we had this spring, it's still nice to be around ol' familiar winter friends.  eBird is showing that I've made 6 checklists (totaling 43 species) at this location since we returned in mid-October.  Here's a quick run down of those:

Greater White-fronted Goose

Turkey Vulture

Cooper's Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk


Mourning Dove

Great Horned Owl

Barred Owl

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Blue Jay

American Crow

Black-capped Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Carolina Wren

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

White-crowned Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Eastern Towhee

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

House Finch

Purple Finch

Pine Siskin

American Goldfinch

Not all the highlights are birds either.  For example, here's a WHITE-TAILED DEER; an 8-pointer buck:
Just today we returned to Steyermark Woods Conservation Area near Hannibal.  The woods were quiet, MUCH quieter than when we visited in the spring when all the singing warblers were around.  Instead, we mustered up a lowly 14 species before bailing ship.  You can see that checklist here.

In fact, the highlight may have been this trail sign sporting some extra flair:
After Steyermark, we went exploring to the north.  We had absolutely nothing in mind other than to drive somewhere that had probably never been birded.  We ended up on a small county road north of town; I was curious about it considering it was one of the few that was down in the floodplain instead of up in the hills (I have noticed that most EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS dig the floodplain compared to hillier towns).  Although I wasn't THAT hopeful we'd find my county ETSP... we weren't 1/4 mile down the road before we found a flock of 11 ETSPs!  The rest of the road was pretty uneventful though.  Here's our list (and you can click "map" to see where I'm talking about).

I was happy about the ETSPs though.  You would think that we're LOADED with them here, being relatively close to St. Louis and all that.  Fact is, they're way more easy-to-find on the Illinois side of the river.  These ETSPs that we found in Marion County were about the 10th eBird record ever for the county (much of that is probably poor coverage though).

We were heading back to town via Hwy 168 when we looked up to see two BARN SWALLOWS flying over the road.  Um... woah?  We turned around and managed to find one again so that we could get a documentation pic:
We knew it was getting late in the season for these migrants but weren't really sure HOW late.  We pulled up November eBird records from this year and what we saw was a landscape severely lacking in red pins:
So even though it was a measly BARS, it's nothing to sneeze at.  Ahh, the joys of exploring.