24 October 2009

SMLO & CCLO - 24 Oct. 09

We made the drive up to Kossuth County this morning to look for Smith's Longspurs. The corner of 270th St. and 120th Ave, as Matt Kenne previously posted, was loaded with longspurs.

There were several large flocks of LAPLAND LONGSPURS, easily 300+. We also flushed several small flocks of SMITH'S LONGSPURS rather quickly. However, it took some time before seeing one perched! At least 50 were present.

However, 2 CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS were most notable. We first keyed onto these 2 birds by the distinctive flight call. I got a decent look at the tail pattern as they circled us a few times before joining a different flock of longspurs. We were unable to relocate them.

Here is a SMITH'S LONGSPUR in flight:

It took some patience, but I eventually saw this SMITH'S on the ground:

Other birds of interest included:

5 Gray Partridge
1 Le Conte's Sparrow

Also this rather late SEDGE WREN:

Lastly, there has been no sign of yesterday's SPOTTED TOWHEE in the yard.

23 October 2009

Sp. Towhee - 23 Oct. 09

A male SPOTTED TOWHEE visited my feeders in west Ames this morning. Here are 2 pictures:

22 October 2009

WCSP - 22 Oct. 09

Well ok, so maybe this post isn't full of photographs of rare/uncommon birds. Instead I'm going to focus on WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS.

Yes, I was waiting and waiting to find this species in my yard but it just wasn't happening. Now, I'll admit that it actually took me a bit of effort to actually find WCSP's in Iowa! Shameful, I know (they just aren't as common here as other places I've lived). However, we finally got lucky the other day and ONE showed up in our yard amidst 20+ White-throated Sparrows. Here is a very poor photo of it (it was dusk already, had to crank the ISO up to 1600):

Then I was thinking... "Hmm, I really like WCSP's." Here's one from Whitefish Point, Michigan:

Lastly, anyone care to guess the latitude that this WCSP was at?

Yep, good ol' 71 degrees North. The few White-crowned Sparrows that show up regularly in Barrow, Alaska must represent some of the most northerly records of this species?

17 October 2009

Birding - 17 Oct. 09

We had 13 species of sparrows today down around Saylorville and at Harrier Marsh. They were:

Harris's Sparrow (10)
White-throated Sparrow (20)
White-crowned Sparrow (7)
Song Sparrow (5)
Fox Sparrow (8)
Swamp Sparrow (20)
Chipping Sparrow (4)
Savannah Sparrow (8)
Vesper Sparrow (8)
Lincoln's Sparrow (5)
Le Conte's Sparrow (10)
Nelson's Sparrow (1)
Dark-eyed Junco (hoards)

We also had things like:
American Pipit (30)
Franklin's (500), Bonaparte's (20), Ring-billed, and Herring Gull (1)
Merlin (1)
Horned Grebe (3)

Here is a Harris's Sparrow:

... and a White-crowned Sparrow:

... and Ruby-crowned Kinglet:

15 October 2009

Sparrows - 15 Oct. 09

I spent a misty, dreary morning working Harrier Marsh for sparrows. There were still plenty around:

Le Conte's Sparrow (25)
Nelson's Sparrow (4)
Vesper Sparrow (3)
Savannah Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow

Here are some photos of one of the NELSON'S SPARROWS:

Back at home, the creekside edge has been pretty active. We've had:

Orange-crowned Warbler
Magnolia Warbler (1)
Hermit Thrush
Eastern Phoebe
Fox, Lincoln's, White-throated, Song, and Chipping Sparrows

13 October 2009

YERA, etc - 13 Oct. 09

I apologize for the lack of blog-updating lately! Classes and teaching are keeping me rather busy...

However, I thought I would mention that Ashley and I got lucky and flushed ANOTHER Yellow Rail back on 9 October at Harrier Marsh! We tried desperately to flush it a second time but we didn't succeed with that.

We also checked out some sparrows as well. The marsh still had good numbers of Le Conte's Sparrows and Nelson's Sparrows in addition to a couple lingering wrens and a yellowthroat.

Here are a few pictures of some Le Conte's Sparrows:

You want a challenge? Try to photograph a LCSP in flight!

Back on the 11th, we found an early BUFFLEHEAD down at Saylorville in addition to a couple RUSTY BLACKBIRDS. Here is one of them:

Otherwise, I haven't been birding all that much. The yard has been pretty active lately though. In addition to all the stereotypical neighborhood birds, we've had:

Chipping Sparrow (5)
White-throated Sparrow (10+)
Dark-eyed Junco (10+)
Fox Sparrow (2)
Song Sparrow (1)

04 October 2009

Harrier - 4 Oct. 09

Not too much to report from Harrier Marsh this morning. The "best" bird was probably this late BOBOLINK:

However, the NELSON'S SPARROWS were not to be outdone. We had several this morning. Note the gray median stripe on this bird (it didn't feel like turning towards me apparently).

However, LE CONTE'S SPARROWS are now easily outnumbering Nelson's Sparrows. Here is one tucked deep in the weeds:

02 October 2009

YERA & HESP - 2 Oct. 09

Despite the driving rain, chilly temps, and very gusty wind, Ashley and I took our chances and decided to rope-drag at Snake Creek and Harrier Marsh this morning.

Highlights at Snake Creek Marsh included 7 species of sparrows:

HENSLOW'S SPARROW (1, see photo below)
Nelson's Sparrow (2, see photo below)
Le Conte's Sparrow (4+)
Lincoln's Sparrow (1)
White-throated Sparrow (2)
Harris's Sparrow (5)
Fox Sparrow (1)
House Wren (1)
Sedge Wren (4)

Henslow's Sparrow from Snake Creek Marsh:

Nelson's Sparrow from Snake Creek Marsh:
The definite highlight was a YELLOW RAIL that we were lucky enough to flush twice at Harrier Marsh. We tried to flush it a third time for photo attempts but the bird had other ideas! We also had:

Nelson's Sparrow (2, see photo below)
Le Conte's Sparrow (4)
Now if I can only dry off and warm up....