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Recently, I posted 2 rules (and Nancy Rock added a very appropriate one (I also know that sinking feeling of reaching chestward and finding no binoculars).

Today's message is a short case study in the three Ps of successful birding:  Preparation, Patience and Persistence.

Preparation comes in the form of studying species--their field marks, habits and preferred habitats--through books, courses, conversations and especially through time in the field. And, importantly, paying attention to the reported sightings of others.

Patience is waiting for a bird's appearance, sometimes beyond what seems rational, waiting in silence and keeping focused on why you're there.

Persistence is keeping at it--birding, in general, or in pursuing seeing a bird over the course of more than one visit.

The Ps came into play today for me.  

I've learned well what Buff-bellied and Upland Sandpipers look like, walk like, sound like; and what habitats in which to look for them.  And I knew from recent reports that these sandpipers were once again at or near SelectTurf Sodfarm on US 63, a site familiar to me.  So, I was prepared.

I thought I showed reasonable patience on my previous visit; but perhaps not.  Today I went expecting to stay longer.

And persistence (this was my 2nd trip) paid off.  This sort of thing--seeing something long after everyone else--is not new to me.  It took me seven trips and sitting at least 2 hours each time to see the Inca Dove people had reported over and over in Rocheport in 1995.

Today I watched the grass near the transmission lines and a flock of Canada Geese for more than ten minutes on the first pass, and a half hour on the second.  Only the geese, a couple of starlings, some red-wings, a reduced number of killdeer, and once a horned lark appeared in one swing of the scope.  No matter how many magic-making vibes I sent out, none of them morphed into anything else.

Then, something new.  There must be a depression out there, for right where I'd been concentrating, appeared a long bill, a MODO-like head, and a long neck, all resolving into the foreparts of an Upland Sandpiper as the whole bird came into view and walked nearer.  I stared in something close to disbelief.  I'd been hoping for the Buff-breasted, knowing the two previously reported SPSAs hadn't be seen for a couple of days.

As I watched, a second bird appeared about 15 yd.s behind.  No, not a second UPSA.  This bird was smaller, chunkier and darker.  No long bill; no long neck. It really was a Buff-bellied Sandpiper, trudging along behind its bigger buddy.

Birding is rewarding in many ways.  A successful day that begins in measured pessimism about the odds of finding the bird(s) sought after and ends with both of them in the same scope view is a rare treat.

Treasure such rewards.  I sure do.

Thanks to all who kept up those reports, and to Pete and others for responding to my plea to post on Mobirds while I was still in the field.

Bodacious birding, indeed!

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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