Sunday, February 22, 2009


It was a Sunday and there was a storm approaching from the South. The weather was predicted to get worse as the day went on and the heaviest snow accumulations were to be to the south and east. So I decided to head out to farm country in the morning before things got too bad.

It was already snowing, and the plows had been out scraping and salting. The wind was blowing at a pretty good clip and the most of the field birds came out to the edge of the road to see if the foraging was any easier. When your driving down a quiet country road and you see something like this, you realize that something is definitely going on.

There were Horned Larks all over the place. I ran into quite a few flocks of them and estimate that I saw 350+ along the edges of some of the roads. I wish I could have taken more pictures of the flocks, but some of them were along busier roads and it just wasn't safe to stop.

One of the flocks that I did stop to look at had a Lapland Longspur in it. Always great to see these sometime elusive birds. Nice to see one out on the road and not scurrying about amongst the corn stubble.

A while later I found another large flock of birds that was just flushed by a passing vehicle. I parked on the side of the road and waited as sometimes a flushed flock of snowbirds will return to the same area. The flock eventually returned and I was busily scanning the flock as it foraged along the side of the road. When I finally took a break and put my binoculars down for a moment, I couldn't believe what was standing all by itself about 25 feet from my vehicle... It was a female Lapland Longspur in near breeding plumage.

I snapped as many pictures as I could as I knew this would probably be the closest I would ever be to one of these birds. I was very tame and was frantically trying to find as much as it could to eat.

This bird was beautifully marked and I watched it as long as I could before another passing vehicle flushed it deeper into the field. Hard to believe that these birds are already starting to move back to the North. It seems like they just got here.