I got out birding today. No shore bird habitat. No new year birds. But a lovely day to be out.

In general, the day was notable for the absence of birds (except swallows) on the phone wires along rural roads. The Dickcissels, E. Kingbirds, Indigo Buntings, etc. that ruled the wires only a few weeks ago were gone.

It felt and looked like Fall.

I first did the two sod farms along the east side of M-291 north of Harrisonville in Cass County. I have only seen Uplands there in past years, but the sod farms also look good for Buffies. Just Killdeer today. Unfortunately, unlike the Meyer Turf Farms at the same latitude near Bucyrus, KS, in whose more remote parts I have often found Buff-breasted Sandpipers at this time of year, the more remote parts of the M-291 sod farms are obscured by rises and therefore invisible from both M-291 and from bordering east-west side roads. The Killdeer were tantalizing close to the crest of one rise. There may or may not have been Buffies just out of sight behind the rise. In any event, I saw none today. I did see a couple of young Scissor-tails along one east-west road bordering one of the sod farms.

On to both the east and west units, and the Ducks Unlimited unit,  of 4-Rivers. There is still some water in drainage ditches and in a few other places, but not even a Yellowlegs or Solitary. I did see two owls (1 G.Horned, 1 Barred) and a Red-shouldered Hawk fly and perch. Also a Pileated Woodpecker. Lots of Great Egrets, one or two imm. Little Blues and a couple of Green Herons were present, but no unusual waders.

White Pelican populations are building up at 4-Rivers and at Schell Osage.

Next I drove the Horton Road. I saw a total of ONE DOZEN MISSISSIPPI KITES while driving that road. Two adults and two juveniles were flying over the trees just west of Stearns Lake. Another individual, identified by silhouette and behavior, flew over the Marmeton River south of the bridge. When I got into the open farmland about 1/2 to 3/4 miles east of the Marmeton, two  more adults were flying over the open country nearby. Looking back west, five more Mississippi Kites were flying over the trees near the Marmeton, but north of the bridge.

On to Schell Osage W.M.A. Schell Lake and Atkinson Lake are both full of water, as is the Evelyn Johnson Shorebird Marsh. The drought is over! Unfortunately, it has ended so completely that all available mudflat is still covered with water, if not by vegetation.

I found TWO MORE MISSISSIPPI KITES perching on snags and flying about by the Osage River in the eastern, St. Clair County, part of Schell, making a total of fourteen for the day. I have previously seen Mississippi Kites in Henry County up a road north of Rte. 7 and west of Clinton, but these are the first I have seen at Schell. 

I also saw 3-4 Little Blue Herons, 1-2 Snowy Egrets, another Pileated, a Cooper's Hawk and a Blue Grosbeak at Schell.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
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