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Some additional thoughts on the Smithville Murrelet:
No, I did not see the bird dive. Kristi's summation is acurrate (Thanks!). 
The flanks appeared dark on the Smithville bird and the underwing appeared 
dark grayish, at best. There were no other birds nearby for size comparison. 
I have no previous experience with this species...or murrelets in general.
Having said that, I will be at Smithville Lake tomorrow until around 4pm, if 
need be. I am convinced that the bird I saw was indeed a murrelet, probably 
an Ancient Murrelet. Shadow and poor light could account for the "wrong" 
underwing color and in the choppy water, the flank color might not be 
visible. The shape, pattern of dark and light on the upperparts, and flight 
style of the bird I saw today was totally unlike any bird I have seen 
before. I am committed to relocating this bird tomorrow and would welcome 
any help!!
Regarding the weather, I-435 (north from Hwy. 152) and Hwy. 169 (goes 
through Smithville, MO) are totally clear and it was not snowing, as of 
8:30pm. I do not know the conditions of Hwy. 92. The roads around Smithville 
Lake are ice-covered, but manageable if one drives slowly and defensively. 
Parking lots are ice covered, also. Be careful!
Bodacious Birding Indeed!,
Doug Willis
Kansas City, MO
[log in to unmask]

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sebastian Patti" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 6:35 PM
Subject: Re: Possible MURRELET - Smithville Lake


> hmm . . . did he see the bird dive????
>
>
>
> [log in to unmask]
> Sebastian T. Patti
> (Lincoln Park)
> Chicago, ILLINOIS 60614-3354
> PHONE: 312/603-4416 (o) 773/248-0570 (h)
> FAX: 312/603-2041 (o) 773/248-0264 (h)
>
>
>
>
>
>>From: Kristi Mayo <[log in to unmask]>
>>Reply-To: Kristi Mayo <[log in to unmask]>
>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>Subject: Possible MURRELET - Smithville Lake
>>Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 17:54:43 -0600
>>
>>At about 4:30 this evening (Nov. 30), in waning light and over choppy 
>>waves, Doug Willis spotted a very interesting bird at Smithville Lake 
>>(Clay Co.). The bird was observed for about 5 minutes before it 
>>disappeared into the chop. Doug was able to observe the bird on the  water 
>>and in flight. All signs are pointing toward this bird being a  possible 
>>MURRELET sp.
>>
>>Here's the notes I scribbled while listening to Doug on the phone:
>>
>>"Dark blob". "No neck." "Real small." Doug said he tried to turn it  into 
>>a Pied-billed Grebe, but it was just too small, had no neck, and  was too 
>>round. He described it as a "fat little head with no neck."  Like a "Nerf 
>>football".
>>
>>Only plumage details observed (with the bird in profile) were of an 
>>all-dark bird with white running up the side of the neck.
>>
>>After watching the bird on the water, it took flight -- or, as Doug 
>>described it, "tried to fly". At first it resembled a wounded bird  that 
>>just couldn't get very high off of the water, but then he  realized that 
>>it almost "meant to fly like that". It had an  "incredibly fast wingbeat". 
>>It would fly a short distance, skimming  the waves, then land again on the 
>>water. It repeated this two more  times, moving from between the Litton 
>>Center and Crows Creek toward  Little Platte, where it eventually 
>>disappeared into the waves. Doug  said that he's "never seen a bird fly 
>>like that."
>>
>>If this is, indeed, a Murrelet, and if it stays on the lake, it will 
>>likely take a coordinated effort from a number of birders -- staying  in 
>>touch with FRS radios -- in order to relocate such a small, dark  bird on 
>>such a big lake. I believe searches of this kind have been  successful at 
>>Carlyle Lake in Illinois.
>>
>>A warning to those who do venture out: Roads and parking lots at 
>>Smithville Lake are ice-covered. We're not getting much snow up here 
>>right now, but that may change overnight. (Snow can actually add  traction 
>>in some cases.)
>>
>>Doug asked me to post this information since it will be a few hours 
>>before he gets back to a computer. When he does have Internet access, 
>>he'll make any additions or corrections to my ramblings. In the  meantime, 
>>he wanted to get the word out so ambitious birders/chasers  can make plans 
>>to be at Smithville Lake in the morning!
>>
>>Kristi Mayo
>>Kearney MO (Clay Co.)
>>[log in to unmask]
>>
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