Got to do some birding this afternoon at Cooley Lake Conservation Area (Clay County, MO). Cooley is looking really good for rails and bitterns at the north end (which requires a 2-3 mile hike round trip). I could hear American Coot, Common Moorhen, Pied-billed Grebe and Least Bittern vocalizations from the cattails/sedges. Thought I heard a Marsh Wren or two, but never got a bead on these guys. A vocalizing Willow Flycatcher and a Black-billed Cuckoo carrying what appeared to be nest material were observed at length. A Red-bellied Woodpecker drumming on a snag prompted a response from a Virginia Rail (!), which was later observed at the edge of the cattails.
There is a small stand of cattails near the overlook (at the end of the gravel road into the C.A.) which appears to be holding a nesting pair of Common Moorhen. I could hear them today vocalizing frequently and this should be a relatively easy "twitch" for anyone wishing to see or hear this species.
I drove a short distance from Cooley Lake to the small town of Orrick (east on Hwy. 210), Ray County, MO. Observed 2 family groups of Western Kingbirds and at least 8 Eurasian Collared Doves near the grain elevators/RR tracks during the heat of the day. Sooner or later, I bet a White-winged Dove or Eurasian Tree Sparrow turns up here!
Perhaps the bird of the day was a Common Loon in a basic-type plumage, observed on a small lake just south of Scottsdale Park on La Frenz Road, east of Liberty. There is no place to park and I had the sun in my eyes, otherwise I would have liked to study this bird a while...
Good Birding,
Doug Willis
Liberty, MO
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