Friday, April 11, 2014

Smith's Longspurs' annual appearance

Hopefully I'm not jinxing that.

Rhoda and I made a morning trip to Buffalo Rd which quickly paid off.  Almost immediately we heard the rattling calls of longspurs.  There was a decent sized flock moving around well out in the field, probably 100-150 birds.  There were a few other Lappies scattered about. 

Not long after though, we found 2 Smith's on the ground; for once they didn't fly immediately.
The lighting was rough, last's years Smith's Longspur pic is better.  One bird's in the open in the left upper corner, the second is just right and a little in front of the shadow on the right side of the pic.  While I was photographing these Rhoda had another one to the left.  They flushed after a while and I kicked up a full adult male from about 15 feet away.  Unfortunately no pics with my scope on my shoulder.

We didn't pick the white wingpatch of the Smith's out of the larger Lapland flock, but some smaller groups were exclusively Smith's.
 Below is the above pic montaged so all 4 birds can be seen zoomed in on.
Tim noticed a couple years ago that Sibley has the underwing pattern of Smith's wrong.  You can frequently see the white stripe there as well.  We've seen it both at Buffalo Rd and at Tiscornia.  Of course, how can you document something that's not in the books.

Here's the Laplands flying away
The entire flock flew right past; I could feel their breeze.  Rhoda didn't see any Smith's in them; I was only trying to get pics.  Hand focusing on rapidly moving birds meant only one usable image. 

One last Smith's, this shot's even worse, but it's the right color and has the wing patch
I saw 9, counting the distant birds in flight captured by the camera.  Rhoda had 3 more I didn't see while trying to find my focus plane in the homogenous corn stubble.

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