From here, we crossed the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri and continued south to Two Rivers NWR. Even though it was late and in the heat of the day, the birding was fantastic. Canada Goose families cruised in the placid waters while dozens of Great Egrets foraged in the shallows. A pair of Eurasian Tree Sparrows nesting in the parking lot were a pleasant surprise, and the forest hosted boisterous Prothonotary Warblers. Dickcissels sang in the clearings and Indigo Buntings flushed from the roadsides, making us feel like our summer had truly started.
The next day, we went to downtown St. Louis to explore the zoo and the Gateway Arch. Despite some initial difficulties finding our way around the city, the day ended up being a fantastic opportunity to explore. In addition to the wild birds, the zoo also possessed an incredible variety of birds and beasts from around the world. We spent five hours exploring the zoo, watching baby Ring-tailed Lemurs harass their parents and flustered bustards displaying to females in adjacent enclosures.
In the mid-afternoon, we finally found our way to the river, where Caroline came face to face with the Gateway Arch for the first time.
All in all, she said it was a pretty great birthday.