Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bois D'Arc Boids

The advantage of semi-retirement is the fact that it provides opportunities for spontaneous birding with my retired friends. Realizing that I would be finished with my day's work at 8:30 Thursday, I e-mail Charley early to see if he was into slipping out into the field for a few hours. It wasn't long before my cell phone rang, and by 9:00 am, we met on the banks of Lake Springfield. After a suggestion from Charley's wife Lisa, we headed to Bois D'Arc Conservation Area to scout it out for Spraque's Pipit.

Well, that seemed like a long shot, but even a Sedge Wren would be a lifer for me, and both species were definitely possibilities in Bois D'Arc habitat.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is primarily an agency that serves hunters, in spite of the fact that all Missourians pay a 1/8 cent sales tax for conservation. Bois D'Arc Conservation Area is clearly designed and managed for hunters. An extensive shooting range lays in the middle of acres of brushland, largely choked with autumn olive and other non native and native shrubs, specifically managed to increase the carrying capacity of White tailed Deer, Wild Turkey, Bobwhite, and Eastern Cottontail.

For we birders, the small amount of the CA left in native grassland still attracts one of my favorite sparrow species, the LeConte's. Usually best viewed when a large group of birders circles around the ground dweller and "pens" it in, we managed to get excellent views with only two of us closing in on the bird.
You can clearly see the bird in the lower right corner, and Charley very nearby!
A very cooperative bird!
After our sparrow encounter, we went to a mudflat on the reserve. There we were delighted to find several shorebirds and others still hanging around on this November day. Highlights were Wilson's Snipe, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Greater Yellowlegs, and American Pipits.

One of many Wilson's Snipe and one of 3 Least Sandpipers in the flooded field.

A single Dunlin remained in the area.

One of the two Greater Yellowlegs we spotted.

American Pipits were plentiful on the flats.


N8 said...

You have excellent luck with LeConte's Sparrow.

Greg said...

It's a gimme at Bois D'Arc in late October through mid November. I think we flushed at least 5 in about 15 minutes of walking.