Mark Ochs, Doug Kieser and myself birded around Brown County today and our target bird was Smith's Longspur. We walked a large area of CREP grassland located on the east side of 330th Ave., Section 20 in Mulligan township (this is approximately 1/2 mile north of the intersection of County Rd. 20 and 330th). These grasslands, in my opinion, are excellent Smith's Longspur habitat. We parked on a field approach that is by a wooden sign post with no sign on it. Please note that this is private land, however, no one has ever said anything to me when I've hiked around in there nor did anyone question us today. Anyway, we walked directly east into the grassland and very shortly started flushing Smith's Longspurs. They gave their slower Longspur call that doesn't have the "teew" calls like a Lapland Longspur gives. At one time we counted twenty-two Smith's Longspurs in flight. We believe that we found at a minimum thirty Smith's Longspurs today. We were able to view and hear them mostly in flight but also saw them on the ground. All of us saw two male Smith's in breeding plumage on the ground together at one time. As I wrote, these grasslands are a large area. Mark thought that the two sections of grasslands we hiked (this would be the field due east of the field approach and the adjoining field on the south) to be about 130 acres. We came back in the afternoon to try to get better views of the Smith's and this time we flushed a total of seven Smith's but weren't able to get very good looks of them. The Smith's found today were the second county record. I found a single male Smith's on 4-10-11 in this same field. I apologize for not posting about that until now but I wanted to wait until after our group had the field trip today so Doug and Mark could try for them.
Other birds of note included a Rough-legged Hawk soaring near the intersection of County Road 8 and 110th St. We also heard an Eastern Meadowlark (rare in Brown County) singing in the grassland on the north side of 110th St. (Wood Lake WMA). At this grassland Doug flushed a probable LeConte's Sparrow. There were two Ross's Geese (one adult and one juvenile) on Boise lake (between Springfield and Sleepy Eye on 200th St.). They were near the shore on the NW corner of the lake hanging out with a Canada Goose. Also on Boise lake was a Western Grebe and a Horned Grebe. Lots of ducks still around the area and at the Sleepy Eye sewage ponds. Shorebirds were scarce today.
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