It's kind of an interesting time around here in Missouri, to be honest. Sure, spring migration IS a distant memory and most of the breeding species are quiet for much of the day. However, it's in this month, June, that you can start to see the first "fall" migrants (usually shorebirds). For example, here's a WILLET that Ashley found while we were out birding this morning at Mark Twain Lake (checklist):
We were pretty happy with this sighting; it was our first ever for Missouri (and kind of an overdue need for us).
Speaking of Mark Twain Lake (a reservoir in northeast Missouri), there's been a COMMON MERGANSER there at the dam that never seems to migrate north like he should. This is the second summer he's been around so I think he's probably permanently injured and can't migrate. Here's a terrible photo of him perched on a distant shore:
In this part of Missouri, we have tons of PURPLE MARTINS around. Here's one that posed briefly in downtown Hannibal:checklist):
We feel fortunate to live in the company of NORTHERN BOBWHITES, a type of quail. In fact, we sometimes hear them calling from the yard. Here's one that Ashley photographed:
Of course, one of the bests sounds of summer come from the lonely gulping caws of the YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO during the hot and humid afternoons. Here's a pic of two of these slinky cuckoos (oddly enough, rather low and in more open habitat than usual... they were probably migrants):
The pugnacious EASTERN KINGBIRDS though, they don't mind!
For reference, this was only the 4th time I had seen this species in my life.
Back home in northeast Missouri... we've enjoyed the many HENSLOW'S SPARROWS around. Here's a screen-capture of all the eBird records this June. All of the pins you see, 10 different spots, are from Ashley and myself:
Although I haven't worked on photographing these uncommon sparrows lately, we really have enjoyed stopping at good-looking fields and, more often than not, finding them!
Missouri is the first place I've lived where MISSISSIPPI KITES are in the mix of breeding species. Although we have yet to see one from the yard, they're findable over by the Mississippi River. Here are a couple of shots of this aerial predator:
Better yet, we took notice when a pair of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS was reported between us and St. Louis. Wow, that's a quality bird for this part of the Midwest! We decided to chase them and, lucky for us, we found them right away sleeping up in a tree (as this species often does). Here's an iPhone photo we took through the scope:
Thankfully, the YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS are common and vocal as ever. Here's one in the yard:
It's a close call, deciding which we hear more often from the yard: chats or KENTUCKY WARBLERS. I think the latter wins; we hear this species every single day even from our bedroom window (actually, I'm listening to one as I type this). Here's one of the territorial males we have:
Although we have Kentuckys around, we don't ever seem to have nesting OVENBIRDS on the property. No matter, we can find this streaked warbler in other nearby forests:
Anyway, that's all for now. My next post will probably be highlighting our Field Guides tour to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Until then, get outside!