I did the Montrose, Taberville, Schell Osage, 4-Rivers loop today. I got to Rich Hill about noon and found Tommie and Ron Rogers at the Apache Motel, hoping for the wren. They had been there since 9:30 a.m., had not seen it and thought it might be gone. We chatted for about fifteen minutes, and then the wren suddenly appeared in the location predicted for it, by the air conditioner. We watched it for about fifteen minutes. It was still visible when we left.

The front of the Apache Motel has a small roof across it, at the base of a rectangular, red, western-type facade. There is a white gutter at the edge of the roof. Above the gutter there is an ornamental fence about two and a half feet high, which runs the width of the building. The air conditioner is behind the fence on the small roof, approximately in the center of the building. Most of our views of the wren were in the vicinity of the white guttering, into which it would drop down at times, then reappear. We did see it briefly on top of the ornamental fence railing, at the very top of the building and, on one occasion, around the west side of the building. However, most of the time, it stayed at the level of the guttering at the bottom of the ornamental fence, often in one of the narrow spaces separating the fence boards. Once seen, it is hard to miss. However, someone searching only the top of the building, top of the fence, bushes around the building, etc., but not between the fence boards along the top of the gutter, could easily have missed it.

The rest of my trip was productive, but not outstanding. I did find the GREATER PRAIRIE CHICKENS at Taberville on their traditional lek on agricultural land across the gravel road that borders the eastern edge of the refuge. The lek is about 150 yards in from the road 1/4 to 1/2 mile west of 200 St. near the crest of the hill. (It's not a steep hill). I arrived at 9:30 a.m., worried that the chickens might already have flown out. Instead, I watched seven of them fly in and land in the lek area. The ground there has evidently been plowed. It is bumpy, but still grassy. The birds are easy to miss among the clumps and in low spots. I rarely saw more that two at a time after they landed on the ground. They did not dance, and I did not hear them booming. I did hear some cackles and other grouse-like sounds.

The PURPLE MARTINS are in at Montrose near Rte 52  before it curves from north to east a couple of blocks west of Casey's. I also saw a EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE as I was driving through Montrose, the first I have seen in that town.

I was looking for Smith's Longspurs, which sometimes are quite easy to see at this time of year in that area. I saw a couple of longspur-types bouncing around aimlessly north of the cattail ponds in the reclaimed strip mine area south of Montrose. They did not come close enough for me to identify them. I also drove the field (on its gravel road) near the bottom of the reclaimed mine area and saw nothing there. I did hear WESTERN MEADOWLARKS there. We also heard them there (and at Taberville) March 6th. I have heard them there in only one previous year and generally do not find them south of the Missouri River. I wonder if they will breed there.

Schell Osage had been flooded March 6th but is nicely drained now. The side roads to the river are once again passable. There is some shorebird habitat along the main road that borders the north side of Schell Lake. I found 50 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, 15-20 WILSON'S SNIPE, 5 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 1 BAIRD'S SANDPIPER near the handicap blind in that area. Schell Osage's BALD EAGLE nest is occupied again.

The flood waters have also receded at 4-Rivers, and it looks good. There are thousands of ducks in the East Unit and hundreds in the West Unit. I found 50 more Pectoral Sandpipers, a half dozen GREATER YELLOWLEGS and six or more AM. GOLDEN PLOVERS on the East Unit, a half dozen more Greater Yellowlegs at the Ducks Unlimited Unit and about 30 Greater Yellowlegs at the West Unit. There were also many Wilson's Snipe at all three units. Shorebirds are coming back in numbers, but the habitat at these recently-flooded management areas favors species that like vegetated mud -- e.g. snipe, yellowlegs, pecs. Thus far there is little of the sandier type of habitat that Baird's, Dowitchers, etc. like. There is still a lot of flooded area to dry out. If it does not dry out too fast, 4-Rivers may be good when the migration peaks 4-6 weeks from now.

Other birds of interest for me included RUSTY BLACKBIRDS at Schell and in the West Unit of 4-Rivers, a VESPER SPARROW in a field and 7 EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES at the grain elevator in Rich Hill.

I stopped birding at 2:00 p.m. Altogether I saw 77 species, not too bad considering the fact that it was windy all day and rained much of the morning.

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri

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