Deep in the heart of downtown St. Louis 

is a sprawling 19th century Gardenesque park. (Ask me what 'Gardenesque' means, and I wouldn't be able to tell you but I promise it's a real thing) Donated by Henry Shaw, hardware entrepreneur of the 1850's, Tower Grove Park stretches almost 300 acres in downtown Missouri. Full of winding paths, bushes, pavilions, and a lily pond, this National Historic Landmark is also an important "migrant trap" or resting place for migrating birds each Spring and Fall. As a student in high school, I often went birding with my friend and mentor Brad Warrick in Tower Grove Park when the birding was particularly good, or a good bird showed up- perhaps a Black-throated Blue Warbler. I've met many birders for the first time in Tower Grove, birders whose names I'd seen on MOBIRDS, the state birding Listserve. It was always nice to put a face to the name, and stand beside a complete stranger, our binoculars aimed at the same bird, equally in awe of the warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and tanagers which were in our neighborhood on their way to and from Central and South America. Minutes of silence would pass in observation before we'd introduce ourself to one another, to find we already knew each other from our posts online.

Now, I know most of the birders I meet in the park, and each morning birding there is like a high-school reunion. I enjoyed sharing hugs, stories, and catching up with several old friends as well as making some new ones. Let me introduce several to you:

WENDY

"Birding is "in the moment". That's just really what it is for me."

Wendy shared her thoughts about birding being "in the moment". I like that idea and certainly have thought about our conversation since!  

Wendy shared her thoughts about birding being "in the moment". I like that idea and certainly have thought about our conversation since!  

MICK

"Birding is almost too much fun!" 

I enjoyed visiting with birders in Tower Grove Park, some new, others old friends. We marveled at the spectacle of Fall migration, which brought hundreds of birds into the park to enjoy. It was a spectacular sight to share with others.


BIRDS OF TOWER GROVE PARK

Tower Grove Park is home to birds year-round, including this fully-flighted male Wood Duck.

Tower Grove Park is home to birds year-round, including this fully-flighted male Wood Duck.

Ovenbirds are usually seen on the ground feeding in dead leaf litter, but a dog walker flushed this one up into a small tree. 

Ovenbirds are usually seen on the ground feeding in dead leaf litter, but a dog walker flushed this one up into a small tree. 

This isn't an Ovenbird... Can you tell what species of thrush this is? Comments are open!

This isn't an Ovenbird... Can you tell what species of thrush this is? Comments are open!

A young male Cooper's Hawk keeps a watchful eye over the stream, full of birds moments before.

A young male Cooper's Hawk keeps a watchful eye over the stream, full of birds moments before.

A Blue-headed Vireo has a "spectacled" appearance, taking a second to check me out.

A Blue-headed Vireo has a "spectacled" appearance, taking a second to check me out.

Not all of my photos are sharp and in focus, and that's ok. Warblers like this Cape May are quick!

Not all of my photos are sharp and in focus, and that's ok. Warblers like this Cape May are quick!

A Yellow-bellied flycatcher forages deep in the foliage for flying insects. It will winter in Central America, between southern Mexico and Panama. 

A female Blackburnian Warbler bathes in a stream before returning to the tree tops to feed.

A female Blackburnian Warbler bathes in a stream before returning to the tree tops to feed.

She carefully preens her flight feathers, making sure they are in top shape before taking flight.

She carefully preens her flight feathers, making sure they are in top shape before taking flight.

A Magnolia Warbler snags a small caterpillar from a crevice along a Cypress branch.

A Magnolia Warbler snags a small caterpillar from a crevice along a Cypress branch.

The few mornings I birded the park, trees were dripping with warblers. I've never seen it so saturated! At some times, I could see 20 warblers at once. It was a couple of special days to see 50-60 bird species in a morning, right in downtown. Although the light wasn't ideal most mornings, I managed to make some nice images (and many not-nice blurry photos too) and I wanted to share these with you.

Comment