Planning on spending the morning in the canoe on the water chumming for gulls on Lake Wappapello, I was to meet Bruce Beck at Eagle Point Park overlook at 7:30 a.m.

Prior to Bruce's arrival, I was scoped over the near glass surface of the calm lake. I could only pick out a couple of hand fulls of Pied-billed Grebes, 3 Ruddy Ducks, in the great distance of nearly 1/2 mile was a flock of 25-30 Northern Shovelers that I could barely make out through the early a.m. fog, a few female Buffleheads were near to the dam gates/buoy area, a lone drake Hooded Merganser was observed in flight beneath the overlook, and nearer the rocky slope of the dam was a group of four divers - later identified as Lesser Scaup and a Black Scoter.

As I was glassing the 4 divers nearest the dam in sub par light conditions as the sun had yet breached the tree tops, I mentioned to Bruce, I think we may have a Scoter species as I walked to the truck for my field guide for verification. Bruce's interest equaled mine. The early morning low light and increased magnification made viewing more difficult.

We hopped in the truck, parked at the visitor center and tried to walk the road on top of the dam to get closer, but the birds were having none of that business and kept equal distance from us. We jumped back in the truck parking at Eagle Point Park again and walked on the opposite side of the dam (from the ducks) using the guard rail as an barrier. This did the trick in allowing us pretty good views for watching this interesting species yet still at about 100-125 yards away. Images can be viewed here:

Sated from relaxed birds at decent viewing distance, we decided to continue our morning in search for gulls. Canoe in the water, we began our short journey out from Sundowner's Marina headed North skirting the shoreline. We were able to pick up a lone Horned Grebe, a pair of Ring-necked Ducks hugging the shore for all they were worth as hunters were active in their blinds on the opposite side of the lake. The water was near mirror surface except for out paddles dipping in and our trailing wake. We did hear a single gun shot while we were out there on the lake. We also didn't see a single gull. I've heard the term "dead calm" used before, and had it not been for the few ducks we did see out there, I might be temped to use it for this morning's foray.

Please have a safe, warm and Merry Christmas as well as good birding out there to all that may be out either birding, traveling to be with friends/loved ones and/or anything else you may find yourself involved!

Bird on!

Chris Barrigar


Stoddard Co.

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