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Today I was joined by Doug Eudy (a fellow TSU student) for some birding 
in Adair and Sullivan counties.  We started off the morning at the 
prairie chicken lek in Adair co. right at sunrise hoping to see some 
chickens.  They were conspicuous only in their absence.  I ran into a 
nice man who leases the pasture next to the lek site from last spring 
who let us explore around looking for signs of birds after searching 
from the roads (we did so carefully as to not potentially surprise and 
disturb lekking birds) and none were found. While walking around we 
heard both Eastern and Western Meadowlarks.

Later we explored the area by vehicle on available gravel roads and 
were astounded by the number of geese flying overhead.  LOTS of 
movement today.  We also saw 10 SWANS of undetermined species fly 
overhead.  Wish I could narrow it down to species as these are great 
birds for Adair co, but cannot do so with good birding ethics.  
Regardless, a thorough search of an area roughly one mile in diameter 
around the old leks produced no prairie chickens on a morning that was 
picture-perfect for displaying.  What is perhaps most disheartening is 
that the landowner mentioned he hadn't seen any this year. I'll try and 
make it out next weekend to see if this morning was a fluke and I'll 
widen the search radius if need be.  Lots of possibilities, including 
birds shifting range, extirpation, a raptor that buzzed the lek this AM 
right before I got there, etc.  Schwartz found displaying typically 
begins no later than mid to late Feb in MO, so timing shouldn't be an 
issue.

On to Union Ridge where highlights were Rough-legged and Red-shouldered 
Hawks.  Also FOY Robins, Kingfisher, and Killdeer. Rough-legged Hawks 
were in great numbers today, with 5 minimum, and probably closer to 8 
or 10. No Northern Shrike there today. Good numbers of Harlan's/Dark 
Morph Roughlegs had to be left unidentified passing overhead while 
driving.

Checked the lake at Thousand Hills State Park on the way back, and it 
was about 15-20% open and had all three big species of geese, 
Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers, and Common Goldeneyes.  All in all 
I saw more Northern Harriers than I think I've ever seen in a day out 
in the open country, with adult males making up a very healthy portion 
of those sighted.

Overall a nice morning that felt a little hollow without the chickens.

Phil Wire
Kirksville, Adair co.
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Phil Wire
Truman State University

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