It took quite a bit of reflecting to generate this list but I will give it my best shot. 2002 was a great birding year personally with an addition of 9 lifers in Missouri, but all of those are not on my Top 10 list. Here goes:

1. Least Bittern - this one had given me fits for many years. I was finally able to see 5 during the year at Fountain Grove. Great Looks. (Lifer)

2. Rough-legged Hawk - picture perfect through scope at 20' up at Dunn Ranch. Although not a lifer, it was definitely a lifer look.

3. Ring-necked Pheasant - although I have seen hundreds, their beauty never ceases to amaze me. I had a rooster stand in the middle of the road down at Grand Pass and refused to move. The sun was perfect and the bird magnificent I almost had to touch the bird with my truck before it would move.

4. Ruff - although I was hesitant about calling this one. After reviewing a multitude of photos, there is nothing else that it could have been. A fairly large sandpiper with long black flowing plumes down the breast. Seen at Sunshine Lake, I wish others would have spotted it also. (Lifer)

5. Long-eared Owl - I absolutely love owls and I had a 6 foot face to face encounter with one at Poosey CA this year.

6. White-breasted Nuthatch - while deer hunting this fall, I had a flock of over 50 nuthatches pass through. They all seemed to stop right where I was at and the noise was absolutely deafening. It was a great experience.

7. Swainson's Warbler - Finally. This has been a very difficult one to pick up but a couple of attempts down at Greer Landing Campground paid dividends. Lifer look at 10 feet. (Lifer)

8. Palm Warbler - I saw 3 very cooperative males during the Spring Migratory Bird count this past spring at the Ronald and Maude Hartell CA in Clinton County. Great looks with sun behind. This one is usually a hit and miss for me and the looks this year were awesome.

9. Henslow's Sparrow - I was really proud of myself on this one. I have been searching for a long time and finally after listening to the call over and over, while driving down the road at Prairie State Park this summer I heard one. I immediately stopped the truck and scoped the area for over 20 minutes before finding the little guy perched on a weed about 100 yards away singing his head off. (Lifer)

10. Lazuli Bunting - I sat on the porch of Evonne and Wilbur Wright's patiently for what seemed an eternity before the beautiful male finally made his appearance. The Wright's were great people and she makes wonderful cookies. They are very proud of that bird and it was very gracious for them to share it with me. (Lifer) Although I did see another one in Kansas this year.

There were many great birds during the year, especially the Rufous-necked Stint, but these were the ones that made the greatest impact. I hope you enjoy my reflections.

Good Birding,

Kyle Driggers
Liberty, Mo.
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