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Forwarding a message from Doug Willis regarding his recent Squaw Creek NWR & Smithville Lake sightings. Enjoy!

Kristi Mayo
Kearney MO (Clay Co.)
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Begin forwarded message:

From: Doug Willis <[log in to unmask]>
Date: April 5, 2011 12:53:05 PM CDT
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Squaw Creek NWR birds and habitat conditions

Hello All:
Just wanted to let everyone know that Squaw Creek NWR (Holt County, MO) has the best mudflats right now that I have ever seen in Missouri. Pelican Pool (#7 on auto tour map) is virtually ALL mud! The Snow Goose Pool complex (#8 on auto tour map) is perfect for shorebirds (muddy), as always. Pintail Pool (#9/10 on auto tour map) is ALL mud! Mallard Marsh (#11 on auto tour map) is getting there, but has excellent puddle duck habitat right now. The units near both pumphouses (#13/14 on auto tour map) have excellent shorebird mud right now. This incredible habitat appears to be drawing in good numbers of shorebirds early in the season. In other words, although the shorebirds won't peak until late April, every birder in NW Missouri should plan to get to Squaw Creek within the next couple of weeks!
By the time shorebird numbers and diversity peaks (late April), I'm afraid the vegetation may be too high for effective viewing.
Highlights from yesterday (4-4-11):
SNOWY PLOVER-1
Semipalmated Plover-1
American Golden Plover-24
Killdeer-275
Least Sandpiper-18
Baird's Sandpiper-150
DUNLIN-2
Pectoral Sandpiper-450
Long-billed Dowitcher-30
Greater Yellowlegs-110
Lesser Yellowlegs-87
Upland Sandpiper-1
Wilson's Snipe-156
American Pipit-110
It was one of those days that a birder wishes would never end, capped off by a nice look at a Short-eared owl sparring with a Northern Harrier over the wet prarie behind Snow Goose Pool. WOW! Major props to the folks at Squaw Creek NWR for managing this crucial habitat so effectively!!
Another FYI, regarding Smithville Lake (Clay County, MO):
Had a 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull at Smithville Lake (Clay County, MO) yesterday (4-4-11) off Little Platte Pavilion. Numbers of Bonaparte's and Franklin's Gulls increasing, Ring-billed and Herring Gulls decreasing and as Looney as always this time of year (Common Loon counts between 12-25 for the last couple of weeks). First Eared Grebe of season yesterday; many Horned Grebes still around. Nice count of Ruddy Duck (375) yesterday, as well. Stupid numbers of Double-crested Cormorants (2,600 yesterday)...be sure and pick through those guys for a Neotropic!
May warblers drip from every tree you glass this spring!!!
Best,
Doug Willis
Liberty, MO
 

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