Gretchen and I went birding today in search of mergansers and Horned Larks; we found both and then some.
First, we hit the marina at Bald Eagle State Park after Common and Hooded Mergansers as well as Common Goldeneyes were seen up there by my buddy Joe Verica. Didn't see the Goldeneyes but we saw the mergs:At this point in the day, the sun was shining and it was almost warm outside (probably in the 50s).
We then went in search of some Horned Larks I'd seen in my sales territory in Clinton County near Belle Springs Golf Course. I saw two of them on Friday, and I learned an important lesson: listen for them first, because you'll never see them unless they're flying around. That lesson served us well today as we passed field after field until finally trying Williams Rd (where Joe and I had seen some a few weeks ago).
We had been watching a mixed goose flock of Canadas and Snow Geese (1 white morph and 8 blue-morphs, which are my favorite) feeding in field when we started hearing the crazy little HOLA calls. Sure enough:BINGO! There were probably 100 birds in the flock, though it was like the whole flock would take to the air then a bunch of them would almost literally just disappear and it would only be like ten birds.
They are crazy-stealthy; once they landed, they hunkered down in the corn and old soybean stubble and just vanished. Only when we happened to catch them walking around (they're so cute and fast!) did we see them.
While I was trying to snap some photos in the now dim light of a cloudy afternoon (by now it was in the 30s), I happened to catch this rather rufous-touched individual:LAPLAND LONGSPUR!!!!! LIFER! I didn't even realize it while I was snapping the photo because it was all I could do to catch the motion, center and focus the frame, and snap the picture. So I snapped some pics and started looking at them -- look at that beautiful little bird with his rufous patches! Talk about a lucky break!The focus isn't great but it's good enough for a positive ID! WHOOT!
So that's lifer number 290. I can't believe I'm only ten birds away from 300. Based on the Texas eBird lists I've been looking at, I'll hit 300 somewhere in the Rio Grande Valley, which is fitting somehow, as that's where I started out as a little egg in a nest some 46 years ago.