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Show Me Birds!

December 27, 2007
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Dateline……Ozark, Missouri…….


Having returned to the old home place for the first time in nearly a year and a half, I was excited to get re-acquainted with the old home birds I’d been missing while I’d been living it up in Dixie. Fortunately, my dad had some ideas as to where to find the good stuff. And we wasted no time. The very afternoon we pulled into Ozark, merely hours after we stepped off the plane, he got a call saying that the Northern Shrike he had found two weeks prior had finally been refound. It would be a lifer for me, so with non-birding spouses rolling eyes in tandem we sped out to the spot to pick up said bird. Long story short. We dipped. The shrike was proving to be an elusive customer. On the way back though, we stopped at a good place for Short-eared Owls, and like clockwork, one put in an appearance before the winter storm pushed us homeward. One new bird for the year, not a bad start.

On Monday morning we were out again, to the same place where we had found the Owls a couple days previous. It was too early for them but several Northern Harriers and Savannah Sparrows made it worth the trip anyway. The morning light was perfect and a couple of the little sparrows sat atop a hay bale for me to digi-scope them.

But the best bird of our early day then flew past, a killer dark phase “Harlan’s” Red-tailed Hawk. Definitely a bird I wouldn’t get to see out east at all and only the second of it’s type I’d seen even in several years of Midwestern birding. The picture to the left was the best I could do as the bird itself was quite a distance away, but the speckled body and white tail were clinchers. Not a distinct species (I think it should be. Get on that, AOU!) but a great raptor nonetheless.

We then headed out to Fellows Lake again, to get another shot at the heretofore missing shrike. We turned up a big flock of Wild Turkeys. It was mostly first year birds but these two gobblers to the left didn’t seem to care much. We could hear them clucking and yelping from clear across the field. They were completely uninterested in our presense, so lucky for them we were armed with binoculars and not shotguns. The shrike? She was a no-show.

Fellows Lake itself was productive though. Four Common Loons, Grebes of both the Pied-billed and Horned varieties, a few Bonaparte’s Gulls, and a few Common Goldeneyes were the highlights. The Goldeneyes were a particularly nice bird for me as they’re hard to come by in North Carolina and it pushed me within three birds of 300 for the year.

Before the morning was completely over we decided to swing by Lake Springfield to check for any lingering waterfowl. The lake was quiet but this Carolina Wren certainly wasn’t. It allowed me close enough to take several shots, the one to the right being my favorite. Curse the branch though, whose shadow crosses the bird’s eye. It’s almost a great photo.

Another near miss was this really nice Red-shouldered Hawk on the road down to the lakeshore who jumped out of focus just as I snapped the shutter. The lake itself sheltered a handful of Coots, Mallards, Gadwalls and Shovelers. A single adult Bald Eagle soared overhead and we decided to call it a morning. So yeah, good to be home.

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One Comment
  1. Larry permalink
    December 27, 2007 8:46 pm

    Cool wren shot! Congratulations on the Harlan’s! I’ve got a point and shoot camera-it rarely captures a moving bird clearly-just too slow but I don’t have the money to dish out for a fancy camera.

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