This morning, with a list of small and large projects staring me in the face, I decided that a trip to Otter Slough was in order . . . before heading to Lowe's to pick up the needed supplies for aforementioned projects. Heck, the store didn't open until 9 a.m. anyway, and I was up and awake at 5:30. Seemed reasonable.
I made it to O.S. just as the first shots of Dove hunting season rang out over the landscape. I watched over Cypress Lake for nearly a half an hour and witnessed about 13 Forster's Terns taking "turns" diving into the water. I worked my way toward the headquarters building. I figured that I would watch for warblers and was not disappointed; although all would be considered summer residents.
I then sat for nearly an hour on the observation deck behind the headquarters bldg. It was here that I spotted the Roseate Spoonbill. Nearing 8 a.m., I happened to look to the South through the break in the trees over Otter Lake and spotted a large bird flying about about 100+ feet in the air. It was one of those moments when you might catch yourself saying aloud, "That's odd!?" I did anyway. My mind's wheels were already in motion studying the bird - long wings and slow wingbeats, long outstretched neck in front and legs outstretched behind, long bill with a large bulb at the end, PINK coloration.
I grabbed my camera which was hanging on my scope at the ready; althought the scope was not focused for such a distance. Once I found the spoonbill in focus, the rapid flying Spoonbill was soon behind Tupelo and Cypress treetops.
The Spoonbill was flying due West . . . with purpose! I guess what with all the gunfire, it wasn't going to lollygag around. I unsuccessfully searched for it west of Otter Slough, but based on the speed and height with which it was flying when I observed it, it appeared to have no intention of doubling back or dropping down for a rest.
At about 8:30 a.m., the steady parade of hunter traffic to the headquarters bldg. let me that I would probably be okay venturing out to check the pools/fields for shorebirds and ducks. I was about 1/2 down 870 Express when movement in the semi-flooded field stopped my progress. As I scanned the field (still in the truck) I saw a shorebird literally feeding circles around N. Shovelers. A closer look revealed a male Wilson's Phalarope. Pool #24;
Not a bad morning. I'm not sure I would have had the flyby Spoonbill had there not been gunfire. Just goes to show, you never know!
Now on to the projects!
Great Birding!

Chris Barrigar
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Stoddard Co.

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