25 birders got the chance to explore Miller Meadow in Forest Park this beautiful Spring morning.  The forecast called for rain and then strong winds but they both held out for us, thankfully.  Local birding experts Jill Anderson and Jeff Hardt showed us some of their favorite spots throughout the preserve.

Photo by Jim Kirkhoff

Photo by Jim Kirkhoff

Photo by Andrew Aldrich

Photo by Andrew Aldrich

The morning started with a flock of Brewer's Blackbirds in the model airplane field.  Originally there was just one female which was easily picked out due to her dark eye but eventually a couple glossy males and another female joined in and we got great looks in the scope.  

Photo by Andrew Aldrich

Photo by Andrew Aldrich

Photo by Andrew Aldrich  

Photo by Andrew Aldrich

 

From there a walk through a wet field kicked up over 30 Wilson's Snipe and eventually a Short-eared Owl took flight, much to everyone's surprise and delight.  An early Marsh Wren was singing from the cattails, swallows were flying over all morning, and Eastern Meadowlarks were singing throughout the meadow.  A crayfish and a garter snake crossed the trail in front us, and Red Admirals and Common Green Darners were everywhere.

Further down the trail a low-flying Broad-winged Hawk circled over us, and later a distant pair of Osprey.  A flooded wooded area got us a handful of Rusty Blackbirds and a pair of Purple Finches were pik-pik-ing overhead.  A Henslow's Sparrow sang a few times but never showed, and a secretive Grasshopper eventually allowed long scope views in the grass.  Back in the parking lot, a pair of Vesper Sparrows were waiting for us.  A small group continued on to the north lot where we found an early Blue-headed Vireo and an extremely vocal Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

A beautiful morning to be out with great company.  Many thanks to Jill Anderson and Jeff Hardt for scouting and leading and to everyone who joined us! 

- Post contributed by Andrew Aldrich

More photos below and complete checklist here:  http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35981462

Photo by Andrew Aldrich

Photo by Andrew Aldrich

Short eared owl photo by Jim Kirkhoff

Short eared owl photo by Jim Kirkhoff

Photo by Matt Igleski

Photo by Matt Igleski

Snipes - Photo by Jim Kirkhoff

Snipes - Photo by Jim Kirkhoff