Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Longspur of a Different Color

 [NOT the Smith's Longspur. . . this Lapland Longspur at Stone Harbor Point, NJ on Saturday was one of at least three that caused some brief false positives on the Smith's.  Note the rufous wing coverts and broad rufous edges to the tertials. Also check out the namesake long spur on the hind toe. Click to enlarge all photos.  ]

A veritable horde of searches were out for the Smith's Longspur at Stone Harbor Point, NJ this morning, me among them.  The Smith's has been lighting up the internet of late. Sadly, I did not see it - yet, anyhow. It would be a state bird, not surprising since it is a third state record. It was reported by others.

But the birding was good at Stone Harbor - there were the three Lapland Longspurs to distract one, and plenty of both "regular" and Ipswich Savannah Sparrows.  At least two American Bitterns flew over the crowd, as did a Common Loon.  And the weather could not have been better for finding a longspur, or not finding one, or finding the "wrong" one.  Although one could argue that the Smith's Longspur is the wrong one, given the location, and the Laplands were right, since they're supposed to be out in dunes during Atlantic Coast winters.  I always used to say I'm more interested in seeing birds where they're supposed to be than finding the odd rarity, which I guess is still true, though it sounds rather like the fox and the grapes at the moment. Ah, well, I've seen Smith's on the tundra in Alaska, which is where they're supposed to be in summer.

 [Lapland Longspur in flight, Stone Harbor today. Note the single white outer tail feather on each side. Smith's has two per side.]

[This Common Loon flew over Stone Harbor Point today.]

[Another winter dune bird:  Snow Bunting, Stone Harbor Point today.]

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