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Despite a busy busy 8 days of business, farms, taxes, friends, and  
relatives, and the awesome week-long summerish weather, I managed to  squeeze in a 
few birds and serendipitous birding moments here and there, keeping  it all 
tightly local, including exploring the 'new' (to me), Nodaway  Valley C.A., 
not once but four times over the course of four days, Andrew Co  side twice, 
Holt Co. side twice and each visit brief due to time restraints, but  wow, 
what a cool place that is!  A mini-Squaw Creek and not having to go  the 
distance, and I simply didn't have time to go down there  anyway, plus I felt 
like I 'owned' Nodaway Valley each time I was there since  there was no one 
else or even clues of such ever in sight.  Nodaway Valley  CA is literally 
ONLY 5 minutes from the SW Nodaway County farm tracts  so it's clearly 
inexcusable for me now not to at least pop in for a  look-see during ALL future NW 
Missouri ramblings. Now, I think I know where  all of those Bald Eagles are 
coming from that have become a regular and  now expected sight soaring about 
over the farms for all of the past 15  years when before they were 
exceedingly rare or never seen.
 
With optics limited to just the 10X bins around my neck, some of  the ducks 
and waterfowl and potential shorebirds out there in the middle and far  
reaches were out of range for proper scanning or patience.  Still,  highlights 
included most or all of the expected dabbling ducks and a few divers  
including a couple pair of Canvasbacks, and a few  Redheads, Ring-necked, 
Bufflehead, and 'More or  Less' Scaup (dunno really, but 'Less' most likely I 
suppose).  Geese  included scattered Canada and perhaps a thousand Snow but no  
Ross's or White-fronted.  Five Trumpeter Swans  were in one of the big pools 
and an Eastern Phoebe in the far  southeast corner along the grass levee 
adjacent to the bottom land  timber (and home of a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers 
so I'm told) on  the Holt side Fr 3/16 and Mo 3/19.
 
Shorebirds were on the increase with each visit each day, mostly Greater  
Yellowlegs, a dozen or so roadside Snipe, Killdeer  everywhere of course, and 
likely a few other expected early migrants.   Shorebird habitat is really 
looking good out there in places, especially on the  Andrew Co side.  So, 
it's going to be up to you all now to keep me informed  and entertained with 
your Nodaway Valley shorebird reports during April and May  while I 
vicariously live in the memory and visualize the feel of  shorebird migration from far 
far, very far away, way the hell out in the middle  of nowhere, 
mid-tropical Equatorial Pacific (Samoa-Palmyra-KingmanReef) next  month thru May where 
I will just have to settle for the routine seabirds (read:  'yardbirds', 
10-12 Pterodroma petrel species / day, et.al.) and the  whales and dolphins 
which are the primary purpose of this research effort, false  killer whales 
(Pseudroca) in particular.  But, we do have  24/7 Internet on our not-so-little 
NOAA research ship and I will be monitoring  MOBIRDS ...daily!
 
Although the birding at Nodaway Valley was fun and 'new', the best for  me 
personally were found right there on my farmland during the  afternoon, Fr 
3/16.  Sparrows particularly were notable including  a flock of 18-24 
Harris's Sparrows (pure flock,  nothing else), all ages and plumages and singing 
like mad all over the place.  That's the biggest flock of Harris's Sparrows 
I've seen around here, or  anywhere, in at least 40 years.  Elsewhere about 
the property  were early singing Field Sparrows (two) and even the Tree  
Sparrows were singing.  Fox Sparrows too were scattered about,  the handsome 
'red' ones and a nice change of pace for me from the  more familiar drab 'sooty' 
ones out where I live in the Pacific  Northwest that seem to occupy every 
blackberry bramble there is in the  western Washington lowlands during the 
winter.  Another Eastern  Phoebe was seen and Turkey Vultures were streaming 
north all week  long, not in huge numbers, but steady one or two or three at 
a time.
 
My eyes, and ears especially, were always open for  longspurs, but none 
were detected anywhere although I'm sure  some were around.  Just about any 
farm field and hundreds of square  miles of such all looking more-or-less the 
same appeared quite suitable  given there was no snow or ice to concentrate 
some in more easily viewable  areas like roads and roadsides without having 
to launch any assaults out across  a million corn and bean fields or prairie 
pasture land.
 
In a vast landscape of generally monocultural farmland, the other 'big  
deal' (to me) apart from the Harris's Sparrows on the SW Nodaway 120  acre farm 
tract were what appears to be a healthy increase in  Bobwhite Quail, two 
coveys totaling some two-dozen  birds.  I've been managing portions of this 
mostly cropland specifically  for Bobwhite for the past 15 years the farm has 
been the ONLY place during  all of my once or twice a year visits where I 
ever, even serendipitously,  see or hear one, but never fail not to leave 
empty handed without ever really  having to try.  Anyway, this current bump in 
number is quite significant  and a recent if not all time record.  There are 
always at least a few  around but numbers had dwindled to just two or three 
several years ago when  there was bump in Bobcat presence and predation 
there.  Bobcats  seem to have settled back now, either naturally or perhaps 
through some  intervention control and trapping since for awhile it was an  
issue affecting many around the area.   
   
Finally, and as I fly fly away, I want to leave you with this way cool  
video.  Nothing Missouri oriented but this is pretty amazing not to mention  
pretty funny.  I actually know people who can transform themselves  and look 
exactly this!  You might too :-))    Enjoy.

_Japanese  transforming owl - YouTube_ 
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Rp-CaIKvQs&feature=related)  
 
Dennis Paulson, Slater Museum, Tacoma, WA, esteemed ornithologist,  
naturalist, and writer ("Shorebirds of the Pacifc Northwest" and  much more) 
expands a bit with his comments as to what is really going  on here and why 
(copy/pasted below).
 
From Dennis: "That is a fabulous video, even  though it's presented as a 
big laugh.
 
The White-faced Scops-Owl apparently sees the Barn  Owl as a potential 
threat, but not so large that it can't intimidate it into  keeping it's distance.
 
The Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, on the other hand, is a  big predator that occurs 
in the same area that could be intimidated in no way by  a scops-owl, so 
the little guy transforms into a dead stump. And the almost  automatic 
assumption of that shape is really obvious when the eagle-owl moves  around to the 
other side and the scops-owl keeps turning it's appropriate side  toward it. 
 And look at the way the feathers seem to move around on the  head; perhaps 
it can do that just by changing their orientation; I'm still not  sure if 
the skin actually moves.
 
This is entertainment that is more educational than  they think!  One video 
of it calls the camouflage pose the 'Evil Dracula'  pose, completely 
missing the point."
 
 
Richard Rowlett
formerly: Maryville (native)
currently: Seattle, WA (30+  years)

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