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Subject:[mou-net] Smith's Longspurs and Western Grebes, Sibley County
From:Robert P Russell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Robert P Russell <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 25 Sep 2011 01:36:17 -0600

Saturday found me birding the shallow prairie lakes of Sibley County for the first time.  Wonderful day to be out with most surprising 3 Smith's Longspur on a large drying pond (fuddle) on the south side of route 12 about a half mile west of Arlington (sorry very approximate--messed up odometer) with nice views looking down on birds seeing the broader white outer tail
feathers (broader than Lapland), overall buffy coloration, and dry rattle.  Birds were jumpy and frequently flushed but mudflats are extensive so be patient if not immediately visible.  A few Laplands heard flying over a mile to the west of here.  Also 8+ Western Grebes on Swan Lake SW of Gibbon visible from south end of lake.  Most dramatic moment was scoping approximately 900 Franklin's Gulls on Silver Lake east of Arlington when a NE wind came up and all the birds rose simultaneously and within minutes were soaring in a huge, loose swirl 500 feet to a couple of thousand feet up as they rode the thermals in a generally south direction.  A half hour later a smaller flock of 200 did a similar move on Titlow Lake in the town of Gaylord as they also headed south en masse, again with a rising NE tailwind.  Neat to be there at that exact moment when the urge to migrate and weather conditons coincide and you are in the perfect location to witness the force of migration.  Hard to believe these "prairie doves" turn pelagic and winter off the west coast of northern South America.  Other highlights today included a family of Trumpeter Swans at the Fairfax sewage ponds along with a couple of American Golden-Plover on the back dikes.  Bob Russell

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