Yet there were very few Lapland Longspurs ever with them - I seem to remember two at most ... Lifers! Yes, these birds tend to be recorded together, but Longspurs are the rarity. I showed Judy the bird guide pics and told her to watch for them. I well remember Judy trying to learn her birds with mnemonics. Snow Buntings and Horned Larks were no challenge because they sound like "regular speak". But to a non-birder, the term Lapland Longspur sounds much more like "gobble-de-gook" "birder speak" She got it with the "Ls": Lap Land Long ... and, after that much, it just triggered the Spur part.
I showed Judy my pics when I came home tonight (she had just walked the trails around here and, wanting to rest, did not accompany me), and she immediately came up with the right name for my birds today! Cool!
Remembering our excitement at seeing the birds a few winters ago, I thought this year I would continue Ed's seeding of this vacant area just to see if it might happen again. I am overjoyed that many of my birding friends got their chance to see not only the Horned Larks, but also Snow Buntings. I know for sure that at least one friend - Janet Hug - was able to share them with some others who had not visited before and got her county record of Snow Buntings!
To date this year, I never saw any Lapland Longspurs there. Today was different!
|Lapland Longspur at Dutton|
Initially I saw perhaps 30 Horned Larks. I think perhaps a dozen near the "driveway" where I had previously seeded, and many more on the block wall across the street, and even more further up the hill at a different seeded area. I was content. This was far more than usual! I always count on a half-dozen, but this was great! And, after waiting in my "car blind" - the thing with heat that - once parked - does not seem to bother the birds - for about a half hour, I saw Snow Buntings fly over (well, maybe they DO mind car blinds sometimes...), and then I noticed different birds easily within photo range of my "blind": Lapland Longspurs!
While watching the activity, I figured out the birds at the distant "new site" were a mix of Larks and Longspurs. Just about that time, another car slowly passed me and parked - as I had - going the wrong way along the shoulder before me. I thought a birder, and noticed after he parked, a large white object emerged from the driver's window. On further examination with binocs, I determined there was a beanbag upon which now rested a huge white Canon lens (500 mm or better). He was going to shoot birds at the "new site".
As I left the site for a "comfort station", I did a turn-around in the mini-mall, and stopped briefly (at a good distance - I did not spook his birds ...) for a look at the birds he was shooting. At least 15 Lapland Longspurs with a few Horned Larks! Cool!
I did not recognize the younger man (oh heck, almost everyone is younger), but I sure hope he posts his photos and tells birders where to see the pics! With his huge optics and being only perhaps 15 feet away, the pics should be incredible! Thank you mystery man for not messing with the birds I was shooting! Similarly, I did not mess with yours. It is all fun!!!
Anyway, I do think the next time I visit Dutton, I will toss seeds at the new location. It was not recently graded like my old spot and seemed to draw far more birds than by the driveway. Thanks to whomever seeded it first this year - great job!
FYI - new spot is "uphill" (southeast) from old spot, and not too far after the mini-mall driveway after you turn off Lapeer onto Dutton Rd. access.
Again, thanks Ed for starting this as a winter feeding/birding ground! It is one of the few places where we can "car blind bird" when temps are frigid and collect annual records!
You can probably see Horned Larks at any time and they are really cool photogenic birds! But, just hang out in your "blind" and maybe you will see the Buntings and Longspurs!!! What the "L"! Try it!
- "Dr. Bob"