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What a lifer event this morning at Smithville Lake!

I was treated to long looks at a Le Conte's Sparrow this morning in the 
grassy meadow near the Little Platte playground. (I heard at least one 
more.) What a STRIKING bird!

I pulled into the little gravel parking lot (just before you reach the 
playground) around 8:15 a.m. Saw bird movement over the grassy meadow 
across the road out of the corner of my eye. I walked over and right away 
I saw a bird with orange on its face peering my way through the grasses. 
Lucky sighting, but short lived. I couldn't make a positive ID at that 
point but I knew it was a bird I had never seen!

Way out into the meadow I went with hope in my heart for more looks. 
Flushed several birds, but no solid looks.

Back to the car to check my field guide, check in with family, and plan 
out remaining birding time! Reached for my cell phone and found it was 
GONE--no longer on my belt. Lost in meadow.

Back into meadow, way out into meadow, to search for cell phone.

By some stroke of luck, I flushed the cell phone...and a Le Conte's!!  It 
flew 25 feet away from me into a mostly open pocket of grass where I could 
see the bird clearly. I had at least 2 uninterrupted minutes to watch the 
bird.  I looked at it without binocs when my arms got tired.

Observation Notes:
White median crown stripe.
Strikingly orange (in the light) eyebrow stripe and malar stripe
Gray ear patch
Buffy breast which gives way to white belly with streaking on flanks.
Grayish 'scarf' around neck with faint lines in it.


When I first got the binocs on it, it was nervously moving up and down 
from a crouched position. It crept under some grass briefly, and returned. 
When I mimicked the call it was giving (whhhh--iTTT), it hopped up on a 
stalk of grass and offered some different looks! 

I left the meadow with a new outlook on birds...and life. 

**Moral of the Story...always look for your cell phone even when you think 
you are down for the conte.  (Did I misspell that?) :)


Laura Gilchrist
Platte County
Kansas City, MO
[log in to unmask]

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