Against my better judgement, I took a lap around Smithville Lake (Clay County, MO) this afternoon. Pretty birdy, in spite of the hordes of campers, boats and windsurfers. Scoping from the north end of the dam, I could identify about 50 Ring-billed Gulls, 25 Sterna Terns (most likely Forster's), a dozen Black Terns, 22 Caspian Terns and the first decent-sized group of Franklin's Gulls of the "fall" season (about 50). The boats were keeping the birds moving around constantly and my heart skipped a beat when a very dark, gull-like bird with long wings came into view. No Jaeger, but a nice 1st cycle LAUGHING GULL that obliged me with some great looks in flight and some instructive comparisons with immature Franklin's Gull's circling above the busy lake.
I made my way around to Little Platte Rec.
Area and found some gulls and terns on the boat slip nearest the ramp. 30 Ring-billed Gulls, 18 Franklin's Gulls, 26 Caspian Terns, and 10 Forster's Terns were seen here about 2pm.
Other birds of interest:
Osprey- at least 4
Mute Swan-1 (near "Woodhenge")
SWAINSON'S HAWK-1 (perched on a telephone pole adjacent to that nice spot of shortgrass just north of Paradise on Hwy. W; apparently an intermediate morph-type individual, clearly showing a two-toned underwing as it flew off while I fumbled with my digiscope rig...arrgh!)
Good Birding (and happy Labor Day!),