Thursday, March 29, 2012

Longspurs and Blackbirds

This morning, I went birding with my friends Eric and Clare again. This time we headed north to Kankakee Sands and Willow Slough in Newton County. Our main targets for the day were American Golden-Plover and Smith's Longspur. We started out along 225N at a huge wet area that has been and should continue to be great for shorebirds. The best birds were 2 Dunlin and 1 Least Sandpiper.

Our next stop was a little to the north were we noticed a huge mixed flock of birds in a field. One of the first birds that I put my binoculars on was a breeding plumaged Lapland Longspur. As we sorted through the flock, we picked out many Horned Larks and a few American Pipits. I heard a few Smith's Longspurs fly overhead but we were unable to find them so we moved on. We had heard that many birders had seen some Smith's Longspurs in fields along 500N so we made that our next stop. We found almost nothing in the field for the first few minutes but Eric finally found some birds moving in the field. They were Smith's Longspurs! It was a lifer for Eric but unfortunately, Clare got to the scope to late and missed them. When they flew, we realized that there were actually 7 of them even though we had only seen 2 when they were on the ground. That just seems to be the way it goes with Smith's Longspurs.

On our way over to Willow Slough, we found a few Rusty Blackbirds that were cooperative enough to pose for a few photos.

Rusty Blackbird
We were still missing one of our target birds of the day so we decided to continue birding a little farther south in some farm fields outside of Fowler. As hard as we tried to find some American Golden-Plovers, we came up empty. We made a quick stop at Pine Creek Gamebird Habitat on our way home and were able to find a few ducks that we had missed in other locations.

We were pretty happy to have found one of our two targets for the day and we had a wonderful day in the field.

-Rob

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