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Smith's Longspurs and festivals

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  • Bob Miller
    Hi all, Well..... I am going to crawl out on a long thin limb here! I saw the Smith s Longspur( s) on Sat from about 1:00 till 1:30pm and again on Sunday at
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 7, 2006
      Hi all,

      Well..... I am going to crawl out on a long thin limb here!

      I saw the Smith's Longspur('s) on Sat from about 1:00 till 1:30pm and again
      on Sunday at about 10:00am.

      The following runs a bit long :-) so if you would rather skip the specifics
      here is the heart of it. I believe there are two Smith's Longspurs in the
      field SW of the Calipatria Prison.

      The behavior of the birds in the field has changed significantly. Sat was
      quite warm and the humidity was fairly high but dead calm with no breeze.
      NO birds were coming to the ditch!! Pipits, sparrows....nothing. There was
      no shortage of birders along the ditch all morning to attest to that! John
      and I walked the field for over three hours though and were able to get some
      of the best looks at Chestnut-collared and McCown's that I have ever had.
      Funny part was that most all of the longspurs were within a few hundred feet
      of the ditch at mid field. A good number of the Chestnut-collared are in
      almost full breeding plumage. A few male McCown's were just stunning. The
      Laplands we saw were still rather plain and difficult though. We were
      getting such great looks and we would sometimes have five or six longspurs
      in the scope at once but we just could not land on the Smith's and I never
      heard it call that morning. John had to get back to San Diego as he had run
      out of birding credits at home so we headed back to the vehicles. I had
      stopped near the end of the ditch to inform another birder that the
      longspurs were a bit farther up. Just as I started on to the middle of the
      ditch the whole flock went up and the Smith's let out a good rattle....as
      John was driving off down the road! Most of the longspurs landed again
      right about mid field and within a hundred feet of the ditch so I hustled
      down to a small group of birders that were already in that spot. While
      scanning with the scope, the Smith's called again and as I looked up there
      was only one bird coming up in flight. Just as I was bringing up my glasses
      a second birds comes up, gives the Smith's call and stays right on the rear
      of the first bird for about a fifteen second chase and acrobatic display.
      Had them both in the bins and although I could not make out much detail or
      any color, they both looked the same. Suddenly the pursuing bird dropped
      and I followed it to the ground right in front of us. Threw the scope on it
      and there was the Smith's!! Did not know where the first bird went though.
      Several of us were able to get on it in the scopes but then the longspurs
      all jumped up again. I saw that a group of about fifteen were headed for
      the ditch so moved my scope real quick to get on them. They landed right
      near us and was able to get some nice looking Chestnut-collards in the
      scope. Stepped aside so one of the ladies could get a look when her husband
      lifts up from his scope and he has the Smith's on the top edge of the ditch!
      Was able to follow it out and mark where it landed in the field again but
      most of the others landed right around it so could not pull it out again for
      Sea and Sage Audubon who had just come out for a second try. Never did see
      any numbers of any kinds of birds at the ditch by the time I left.

      On Sunday the behavior was all together different. Buford Crites and I were
      out there by 07:30. It was cooler, not as humid and a stiff cold breeze
      was blowing out of the north. No birds were coming to the ditch so we took
      out into the field. The birds were VERY active and were constantly
      shuffling the deck by all going up and moving at the same time only much
      more often that I have noted in previous times out there. We finally just
      stopped and left them shuffle past us. Had one Lapland that was in near
      full breeding plumage and great looks at everything except the Smith's.
      Plenty of Savannah Sparrows started going to the ditch and some of the
      longspurs acted like they were too so we headed that way too. Can't say I
      heard the Smith's at all that day but the wind made it hard to hear
      anything. Had a few more longspurs come over the ditch but just would not
      land. Another small bunch comes over and only one bird dropped to the
      ditch. Put the scope on it and just as I got it focused and realized it WAS
      the Smith's it jumped up and was gone!! We kept at it till about 11:30 then
      had to get back without another view of it. Hate it when that happens.

      The San Diego Bird Festival begins this Thursday the 9th!! It will be loads
      of fun and we can all go pishing with Pete :-)

      The Salton Sea Bird Festival begins Friday the 17th!! This is a great
      opportunity to see LeConte's Thrasher on a leisurely three mile walk through
      the Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area that you hear me talk about so much.

      {}~~{} BOB MILLER
      Southwest Birders
      108 West I Street
      Brawley, CA. 92227
      Imperial County, CA
      http://www.southwestbirders.com <http://www.southwestbirders.com/>
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