I spent the day birding from the twin cities area down to Lake Byllesby.
Not surprisingly, there were lots of other birders out and about.
The big highlight of the day was a Chestnut-collared Longspur, observed
around 12:30 among a large flock (500+) of Lapland Longspurs at the Randolph
industrial site in Dakota County. This site is just off MN Hwy 56 (Randolph
Blvd) north of Randolph. From Hwy 56, turn west onto 284th St E. It's
essentially a small network of roads that don't connect to anything, but run
through some really nice grassland habitat. The longspur flock was moving
around a lot, frequenting fields on the north and south sides of the road
west of the first stop sign. The vegetation south of the road makes it
impossible to see them when they're on the ground; the field north of the
road is bare stubble, and they spent a lot of time feeding in it. The
majority of the flock departed to the north around 1:00, but is probably
still in the general area.
At the time the Chestnut-collared appeared, I was with Steve Weston and
another birder. The Chestnut-collared was seen only in flight - it made
several passes by us, giving a unique flight call. I was able to follow it
for 30-45 seconds and see the extensive black on the breast and sides
contrasting with the pale face, as well as the white wedges in the tail,
which were much more extensive and differently-shaped than the Laplands.
Unfortunately we weren't ever able to find it on the ground to get longer
looks. We also spent a long time looking for Smith's Longspurs in the
flock, without success.
Otherwise, birds were everywhere today, including many recent arrivals.
Some notable things:
Vesper Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Phoebe, Tree & Barn Swallow, Wood Duck,
Green-winged & Blue-winged Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser
Bass Ponds (with Alexis Powell & several others)
- loads of Hermit Thrushes, Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser, Horned Grebe
Old Cedar Ave bridge area (with the same folks):
- 1 Broad-winged Hawk, many calling Virginia Rails, Great Egret, Trumpeter
Swan, White-throated Sparrows
Randolph industrial site
- Northern Harrier, both Eastern and Western Meadowlarks, Savannah Sparrow
West end of Lake Byllesby (where I ran into Laura Coble)
- Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs, ~20 Pectoral Sandpipers, 3 Semipalmated
Plovers, 2 Sandhill Cranes, 5 Greater White-fronted Geese, 1 Red-breasted
Merganser, 1 Redhead, Am. White Pelicans, 20 Bonaparte's Gulls, Lapland
East end of Lake Byllesby
- Field Sparrow (at the county park / boat launch), 3 Common Loons, 20
Pied-billed Grebes, Kestrels
North of Vermillion, I found several Loggerhead Shrikes at the sites along
Fischer and Emery Avenues described by Bill Stauffer. A quick note on these
shrikes - I went by this morning and couldn't find them. Went back this
afternoon and they were very cooperative. So it pays to try the same spot
at different times of day.
I'm sure I'm forgetting things... it was a wonderful day to be out!
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