There were flocks of Horned Larks feeding along the road into the north construction entrance into the Commons off Highway 1694. We also spotted one snow bunting and 2 American pipits. There were also quite a few Lapland longspurs and savannah sparrows. The larks are very flighty and the snow bunting would fly every time the larks took off. It was very hard to keep track of this bird. It sure was neat to see these visitors from the North. Pat and Jane Bell Jefferson CountyPat and Jane are friends from the Beckham Bird Club, and birders par excellence, so I was excited to find their posting from a location just a couple miles from home. "Let's go," I told my husband. "It isn't too cold, the sun is shining, the wind is not blowing, and Pat and Jane have sightings of birds we've never seen before!" Even a man with a broken rib can go birding in conditions like this. Yes, when he fell on the ice, it broke a rib.
The target birds are Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur, American Pipit and Savannah Sparrows. We found 3 out of 4, and those 3 are lifers for us! I had "seen" the Horned Lark before, but not closely enough to identify it with confidence, so we marked the field guide first to make sure we knew what to look for.
Lapland LongspursThe construction entrance for this development is very muddy, as you can see, but it provides perfect camouflage for these small ground birds. The other trick is remembering that they are in winter plumage now, so look at the right picture in the guide. Grains of yellow corn left from last fall's harvest shone brightly, attracting the birds' attention. We were warned that they were very flighty, and that is putting it mildly. We walk carefully, squishing in the mud, and trying to shield our eyes from the late afternoon sun. Fortunately, they only flew around for a few minutes before resuming foraging in the same spot.
This Lark even has his horns up, just a little.
One brave little bird did not fly away as we crept down the road in our car, but continued peering around the dirt piles on the side of the road, bobbing its tail vigorously. I got some nice shots right through the window. As I reviewed the pictures on my computer, I said, "This is not a Lark, Longspur or Snow Bunting at all!" We found the American Pipit!! I will definitely have to go to the car wash tomorrow to get the mud off my car. (Wonder if they wash boots too...) By the way, Pat and Jane, we also saw a bright yellow Meadow Lark. (Dick got this photo.) This is a great way to go birding and get new life birds, so I'll watch the KyBirdlist more carefully from now on. Did you see that today 49 of 50 states in the US have snow on the ground? Guess who does not....