Luck was with us Sunday as Chrissy and I refound a large flock of 107 American Pipits on Keeteman Road off 79 at around 11:40 AM on 10/30/16. They were not far past where Keeteman intersects Glacial Sands. They were very skittish and went back and forth from various spots along Keeteman.
We also found 8 Brewer's Blackbirds with the larger skittish Blackbird mix off Glacial Sands not far from the pipits. We noticed the Brewer's when a smaller mixed flock separated out from the larger flock at one point.
Driving from Sod farm to Bradford Farm, we met up with friends from Springfield. We were grateful to run into the Northern Shrike that was back and that our friends had found. (Brad, I think you said one has been returning to Bradford for 5 years now?)
We then spent the evening at a very successful Saw-whet Owl banding night in Arrow Rock with the wonderful folks of the Missouri River Bird Observatory. 14 owls were banded.
Today, we ventured to Hi-Lonesome to look for Smith's Longspurs (which we did not find), but had a wonderful time with the numerous sparrows present.
Regarding the Sprague's in the larger AMPI flock on Sunday: We found what we think might have been the Sprague's in the group, but we were not able to get a photo and we have no experience with this bird - and very little with American Pipits, for that matter. We followed the Sibley Field Guide we'd brought along to study the differences and noticed on this possible Sprague's bird what Sibley mentions as a dark streaked back, as opposed to the faintly streaked back of the AMPI present. We then noticed an UPSA-like face that Dave Rogles's mentioned in his post, no streaking on the flanks as Sibley describes and fine faint streaking on the neck/breast area versus all the heavy streaking that was easy to see on the numerous AMPI. We really had a hard time with this bird, as the only truly stand-out difference that did not seem subjective was the darker streaking on the back. Everything else felt very subjective.
An amazing day and night and day,
St. Louis MO
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From: "William Rowe"
Sent: 31-Oct-2016 15:14:43 +0000
Subject: Sod farm follow-up, Sunday
I was already planning to head up route 79 yesterday with my Botanical Garden birding class for our fourth field trip, when I read about Dave and Tom's good luck with pipits. So, we visited the Keeteman Road/Glacial Sand Road sod farm in Lincoln County as our first stop.
From the pipit point of view, our luck was bad: almost two hours of scanning the fields there did not produce even one American Pipit, much less a Sprague's. The flock(s) from Saturday must have moved on, or found successful ways of hiding in distant parts of the fields.
On the other hand, we did have scope views of the two "less common" icterids that reliably show up in open country about this time of year: Brewer's Blackbird (saw four for sure but there were likely many more in the large, restless blackbird flocks around the area) and Western Meadowlark (several seen and/or heard well, for good comparisons with Easterns).
Up at Clarence Cannon NWR, Pike County, our best find was an immature Harris's Sparrow, along the north-south road that leads to "Big Pond." Otherwise, the refuge is pumping water and has partially filled some of the wetland cells, and the duck populations are growing.
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