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While birding the oxbow lakes region just south of Saint Joseph this morning I was surprised to find a flock of @ 100 SMITH'S LONGSPURS swirling, landing, feeding, swirling, landing, feeding, .... in the stubble corn field just across the road from Muskrat Lake (this is the shallow lake on Crockett Road). At times they approached within 20 feet of my vehicle, so I really got some amazing views! Also in this field were a few LAPLAND LONGSPURS, Horned Larks, Killdeer and Western Meadowlarks. I called Jack Hilsabeck and Frances Cramer to let them know about the longspurs. Jack and Frances were able to see the birds when they arrived about 1/2 hour after I had called. However, they did not come as close to the road as they had been, so the views they got were at a much greater distance than the ones I had gotten. There chosen habitat for feeding was somewhat different than I would have expected. I have only seen them before in short grass areas.
   
  I had sixteen species of ducks and geese. The six, resting, male Red-breasted Mergansers on Lake Contrary being the highlight for me.
   
  I also saw several sparrow species: Savannah (20), American Tree (5), Harris's (3) and Song (10). Also along one of the back roads in the Lake Contrary area I observed six Lapland Longspurs in the road. When I stopped, they of course flew off into a stubble corn field. Turning off the engine, I sat in my vehicle and waited. Presently, they returned to the road to pick around in the gravel and edged ever closer to my position. Eventually they approached within ten feet of where I was sitting. There was one male and five females, all beginning to come into breeding plumage. Quite a sight!
   
  The wetland on Nelson Road just south of Lake Contrary still held Red-winged, Brewer's and Rusty Blackbirds as well as about twenty Wilson's Snipe.
   
  Killdeer were everywhere this morning. I conservatively estimated 1000 +, most of them were ringing the entire shoreline of Lake Contrary.
   
  Then coming back into Saint Joseph on 59 Highway on my way home, I found about 30 Great-tailed Grackles just inside the city limits in a grassy yard.
   
  Only saw one Eurasian Collared-Dove at the Saint Joseph Stockyards this morning.


Larry Lade
Saint Joseph, MO
Buchanan County
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