How long has it been since you saw two casual/accidental species in your own home county, both within 12 miles of your home, and both on the same day? Well, it's been forever for me. But today, while in search of another casual species, a Plegadis sp., I discovered one seasonal casual species (Black-crowned Night-Heron) and observed an accidental species (Selasphorus sp.) that has been hanging out for the past week or two. Source for species status: Annotated Checklist of Missouri Birds.
It all started when I received an e-mail over the Mo-Birds listserv from local KY3 television meteorologist Dave Snider. Dave said that he had seen at twilight in the evening "some sort of darkish Ibis (noted the downcurved bill) in Ozark, MO., on the NE corner of the 65 and CC/J intersection."
"In Ozark?" I said to myself as I read the message in the darkness of a Saturday evening. "I'll be there at the break of day."
And there I was at dawn, search the marshy area for the ibis. I quickly spotted the Great Blue Heron in the reeds, but no sign of the ibis. I walked all the way around the small wetland, searching and trying to kick up the hidden bird. A Swamp Sparrow ran across the mud flat and into a clump of cattails. Four Song Sparrow flushed from the same area, but there was still no sign of Plegadis sp.
On the southwest side of the intersection lies another wetland area, a pond along a frontage road on Highway 65. I decided to give it a try. Quickly I flushed two Great Blue Herons from the pond. I approached close to the water's edge, and flushed the night-heron. I immediately forgot about the alleged ibis. The bird flew only a short distance into a dense stand of brush near the base of a tree at the shoreline. The first significant field mark that I noted was the exterior bill itself. It was sharply pointed and its inner surface was yellow, outlined in black along the outside. Its streaking throughout the body was bold and coarse. The bird crouched in the underbrush, apparently feeling quite obscure as I approached within 15 feet. I snapped off several pictures with my point and shoot camera. Most were a blurry mess, but I was relieved to see a couple that could be used for MBRC documentation purposes.
Black-crowned Night Heron! Nycticorax nycticorax - T & SV u; SR u (se), ca (elsewhere); WV ca (s), a (n) from The Annotated Checklist of Missouri Birds
Let's save that Selasphorus sp. for another post!
Footnote: A White-faced Ibis has just been reported at Flint Hills NWR near Emporia KS, 150 miles west of here as the crow flies! Keep your eyes to the skies!