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One Buff-breasted Sandpiper and one Upland Sandpiper, along with numerous
Killdeer, were present at the Evergreen Sod Farm, northeast of Boonville on
highway 40.  The Upland Sandpiper was feeding in the sod very close to the
gravel road - saw him catch a grasshopper.  The Buffie, along with numerous
Killdeer, were hunkered down in a depression formed by the wheels of the
rotating irrigation arm.  It was 102 degrees and most birds seemed to be
sitting low in the grass with only heads visible - I suppose it was cooler
that way.  Fortunately for us, the Buffie chose that time to stand up for a
few minutes so we got good looks at him - could have been more out there but
they just were not easily visible.

We were there at that very strange hour because we were on our way to Arrow
Rock, MO to participate in Missouri River boat rides sponsored by the
Friends of the Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge.  The hour long ride
allowed us to see the Jameson Island and Lisbon Bottoms units of the Refuge
from the unique perspective of the River.  These units are reverting to
"natural" state, contain many sandbars, snags, etc. -- and through
binoculars we could see shorebirds using the sandbars.  Due to the time
limitations (they had four groups going out at hour intervals), we couldn't
land but most appeared to be Least and Pectoral sandpiper size, along with
the ever-present Killdeer and Great Blue Heron.  We saw a flock of Mallards
take off from the backwaters of Lisbon Bottoms, and swallows were almost
continually coursing over the river.

It really was spectacular to see those shorebirds using what surely must be
their historical habitat.  It made me think that this experience could be a
very unique type of field trip for Audubon clubs who have the Missouri River
within their boundaries.  (Particularly beneficial for those like me who do
not have access to boats, canoes, etc. - to see the River and understand
better all the controversial surrounding the channelization of the River.)
I made sure to get the contact information for Big River Tours for future
reference - and wanted to share it with all of you.  Normal disclaimer - I
don't make money off of this, never met the guy before yesterday, etc.  It
really was an enjoyable and educational experience.  His website is:
www.bigrivertours.com .  I believe he is based in Kansas City and is
available for charter on the western and central stretches of the Missouri
River.
Jean Leonatti
Boone County
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