Thursday, May 14, 2009

Prairie Birding

This morning Dad and I took a visiting birder from Australia out to find a few birds that he came to Fort Peck to find. Phil and Dad had tried yesterday to find Sprague's Pipits, Baird's Sparrows and Chestnut-collared Longspurs but didn't have much luck in the BLIZZARD that struck yesterday morning (honest, it was a white-out with about four inches of slush on the road - mostly gone by the afternoon). They managed to find only the Chestnut-collared Longspur.

This morning we tried again and had much better luck. We found a number of Sprague's Pipits singing right away, including one that showed up on a rock right next to us and sang a bit. I was pretty sure we could find the pipits, but I was less sure about the Baird's Sparrow because I had yet to find one this year, but at least they were due. We lucked out just a bit further down the road and had a gorgeous bird singing a little bit away. That was all within the first 15 minutes of arriving at the site. We decided to head south (and I took a bit more time off from work because it is addictive showing people new birds that they would really like to see) to find three other species Phil was looking for - Mountain Plover, McCown's Longspur, and Lark Bunting.

We found the Lark Bunting right away, right next to the road and then headed out to the plover and longspur spot. I predicted we would find a McCown's right away but instead we found a Mountain Plover first. Right after that came our first of many McCowns, which we were able to spend quite a bit of time watching foraging in the road. We headed down the road a couple more miles and found another Mountain Plover. We turned around and headed back to town and spotted two more Mountain Plovers. All before 10:00 am. And most of our time was spent driving from on site to the other! I think that Phil and Dad had a good morning. I know I did.

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