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Saturday we had the opportunity to visit the Aley property in Taney County
(previously discussed in an email relay from Paul McKenzie).  We had hoped
to re-locate the Bachman's Sparrows that he observed there - we were not
successful in that effort, but we were amply rewarded with a stunning day of
birding that entertained all our senses.  The temperatures had cooler and
the sky was clear - we had stunning views of a large glade filled with
wildflowers and native plants (I think some in the group identified over 22
different blooming wildflowers), saw at least one pair of Painted Buntings
and several other sightings of males in all their glory perched up tall in
great sunlight.  Excellent views of multiple Blue Grosbeaks; Scissor-tail
Flycatchers feeding young; more Grasshopper Sparrows than we could count;
many Lark and Field Sparrows; a Common Nighthawk doing aerial displays
complete with dives and that "brrrrr" noise.  And the sweetest sight of
all - a pair of newly fledged Orchard Orioles sans tails huddled together on
a small branch; you photographers out there would have died for that shot!
They have a great nursery going on there - we saw lots of parent birds carry
food to young.  Almost all the birds were singing - except of course for the
Bachman's Sparrow!

What I had not expected was the FRAGRANCE of the glade --- there was a
light, spearmint fragrance just about everywhere coming from the Slender
Mountain Mint plant;  there also seemed to be a more earthy-herbal
fragrance, but we never could identify the plant it was coming from.

On Sunday, we visited the Glade Top Trail.  Tried at several locations there
for the Bachman's, but again were unsuccessful.  We did add Pine and Prairie
Warblers to our list --- and two Greater Roadrunners.  The real treat was
that we got to hear the Roadrunners vocalizing -- what an eerie sound that
is!  They were not at the Caney Picnic area as in previous year,  this time
they were along the stretch of road that goes to Brownbranch.

One the things that I most enjoy about birding is the opportunity to see
parts of the state (and the country) that I never would have visited
otherwise.  The glade habitat in south Missouri is one of those special
places, very hard to describe its unusual beauty, but if you haven't made a
point to see it, you need to add it to your "places I must see" list.
Jean Leonatti
Boone County, Columbia, MO
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