Amazing amazing wow fantastical few hours at Smithville Lake (Clay Co.).

Doug Willis found an immature JAEGER around 11:45 a.m. - called me - and by 12:10 p.m. he helped me train my scope on the bird from the north end of the dam, looking out toward Camp Branch Marina. It was a very long way out, sitting on the water. It flew - very low to the water, not high and meandering like the Long-tailed Jaeger had a tendency to do - and disappeared up the channel toward Sail Boat Cove.

We chased it over to Little Platte Marina, but had no luck there, so we returned to the north end of the dam.

At about 1 p.m., joined by Keith Brink, Doug found a pair of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. A few minutes later, I pulled an adult male LONG-TAILED DUCK out of the raft of ducks near Crow's Creek. Then Doug and I looked up at the sound of longspurs rattling overhead. Three SMITH'S LONGSPURS circled over the north end of the dam three or four times before dropping into the foxtail along the rip-rap right in front of us! And just moments later, Doug exclaimed, "Got it…" and we all trained our scopes on the JAEGER, 200-400 yards away on the water. Those were 15 jaw-dropping minutes of birding!

The jaeger afforded us long looks at close range, taking a few short flights to show off its wings. Finally it took off low to the water (again), flew directly at an unsuspecting Ring-billed Gull loafing a few 100 yards away, and belly-flopped on top of it. The Ring-bill took off and the jaeger pursued … and both birds flew out of sight behind the concrete water-control structure at the dam. We never did relocate the jaeger, and our group disbanded around 2:15 p.m.

As to the jaeger's identity—I believe Doug, Keith, and I are tentatively in agreement on the ID, but I want to do some studying first. I will say that I am 100% certain that its common name starts with a "P".

Doug reported that the PACIFIC LOON is still present, as are 3 WESTERN GREBES.

NICE bird, Doug. Thank you!

Happy chasing,

Kristi Mayo
Kearney MO (Clay Co.)
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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Spring Meeting: April 27, 2012 in Joplin, MO