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That slow, steady crunching you may hear even at a great distance is  
not a happy sound.  It is the sound of eating humble pie.

Today we looked and listened and listened and looked, but we could  
not find Greater Prairie-Chickens on a lek at Hi Lonesome Prairie.  I  
know they are there.  This is not faith-based science; others have  
seen and heard them this season.  I feel like taking ten birds off my  
life list because of this display of ineptitude...well, maybe only  
two or three...after all two of us did see one prairie chicken flying  
low (and immediately disappearing) over--of all things--a winter  
wheat field between Hi Lonesome and Cole Camp.

If this had not been billed as a prairie chicken trip, today's  
adventure would rate as a roaring success.  We had tremendous looks  
at some mighty fine birds.  Among them:

A circling adult male light morph Rough-legged Hawk;

A Merlin with prey working an area with many American Kestrels;

Three at once (one female, two males) Scissor-tailed Flycatchers  
putting on quite an aerial display;

At least 16 Upland Sandpipers (11 in a small flock);

Wild Turkeys--including one gorgeous fellow with a massive tail;

Grasshopper Sparrows along several fencerows;

and, several Henslow's Sparrows--a couple at less than 20 feet as we  
walked Drovers' Prairie.


Hmm, maybe I'll just leave that life list as it is.  After all, some  
of today's birders got life birds out of that batch.

Good birding--and if anyone has a tip on how to find prairie  
chickens, I'm all (tinnitus-ridden) ears.

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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