I spent some time yesterday walking and looking around Dunn Ranch. You do need permission to be on the area.I saw a group of 5 Greater Praire Chickens plus 2 single birds. It is true they are not doing trips to the blind again this year so I did not go up early to see the Chickens on the booming ground. I talked to staff at the office and they are seeing more birds this year so are hopeful if there is good nesting success they can continue the public viewing next Spring. I also learned the plan is still on to introduce a small herd of Bison onto the area in Oct. 2011.
  Somehow in spite of the wet weather they have managed to do some recent prescribed burns on the area. In fact just as I was getting ready to leave the fire crew was starting another burn. I stayed and watched for awhile to see what raptors might come in to check it out. It was still pretty damp so the fire really wasn't going very good. Two Redtailed Hawks did come in and one rode the themal created way up into the smoke plume.
  I was hoping to find some flocks of Longspurs, Pipits, Plovers, etc. I finally did find a small group of 4 Lapland Longspurs but not the others except for mixed flocks of Blackbirds moving around. Lots of BH Cowbirds in those and then a single pair of Brewer's Blackbirds by themselves. The male's head was all mottled. saw a couple of Savannah Sparrows and a few Am. Tree Sparrows, quite a few Song Sparows singing. I saw two single Loggerhead Shrikes and then a trio with some chasing and squawking going on.
 I stopped at Grand Trace CA, NW of Bethany, on the way back to check for Long-eared Owls. No sign of Owls but a horde of DE Juncos and several Red-breasted Nuthatches in the pines. I coaxed one RBNU to a branch about 5 foot over my head where it set there and "talked" back to me for several minutes. Funny little guys!
There were still at least 3 Rough-legged Hawks in the Poosey area, NW Livingston Co. but didn't see any at Dunn Ranch or anywhere else along the way.
 I had to think of the different mix of birds seen this week - LeConte's Sparrow and Long-eared Owl Monday - Praire Chicken and RB Nuthatch today - certainly reflects different type of habitats around - and this neat transitonal time of year!
Steve Kinder
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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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