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I had an enjoyable morning out in the field with the unquestionable 
highlight being GREATER PRAIRIE-CHICKENS in western Adair co.  The 
birds on the lek were heard only, as they seemed to be in some taller 
grasses a decent haul away from the road and I never did see any jump 
up, but I heard at least three booming and cackling.  In the most 
general terms, the noise sounded consistent with when there were 5 or 
so last year, but who knows. After driving around for a while looking 
(unsuccessfully) for a better vantage point, I saw 1 Greater 
Prairie-Chicken at a distance flying to the south away from the lek 
around 8 AM.  Those birds sure can haul @$$ and make it look easy when 
they want to!

I will send directions if anyone wants them, but this was my fifth trip 
and this is the first time I've seen or heard any, just to temper 
expectations. They are displaying maybe 600 meters north of where they 
were last year. I have no clue whether they have been displaying there 
all spring or not, as this is the first day I've been out where I can 
say the winds were truly calm... and they were a little tough to hear 
from the road at times even considering that.  I'm also curious as to 
why they are displaying where they are.  There is certainly no shortage 
of barren or closely-grazed ridgetops. No grave avian threats were 
apparent besides the everpresent harriers which really just seem to be 
more of an annoyance to them.

On to Union Ridge in Adair and Sullivan co's... highlights were a 
returning Field Sparrow, an American Pipit flyover and 25 Wilson's 
Snipe at the marsh.  Also a possible Greater Scaup mixed in with some 
Lessers at the far end of the URCA reservoir but the jury is still out 
on that one--need to check some photos more closely.  Regardless, I had 
9 or 10 species of waterfowl which is pretty good for around here in 
April.  Tree Swallows have arrived here too.

The marsh at URCA is looking fantastic for shorebirds... a lot of the 
thick sedges and grasses around the marsh were cut back last fall so 
there is a lot of wader habitat.  Could a 10-species of shorebird day 
be possible in this part of north-central Missouri? (the shorebirding 
black hole of Missouri, as I call it) We shall see.

Good birding--

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

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