Smith's Longspur - N of Hagersville - Wed Feb 6

Frank Pinilla frankpinilla at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 6 17:43:24 EST 2002


Hi All,

I was at Oneida Concession 2 (just north of Hagersville along Hwy 6) and had 
a pretty good couple of hours.

I arrived around 9:30am and saw a large flock of SNOW BUNTINGS (150+) and a 
smaller one of HORNED LARKS (30+) but did not see the bird in question.  I 
then watched as 1 then later 2 LAPLAND LONGSPURS came to the side of the 
road (with Horned Larks) just west of the small bridge & stream.  Also at 
the bridge were a SONG SPARROW and a lightly marked SAVANNAH SPARROW feeding 
on the side of the road right near the bridge.  I stayed on hoping, and as 
we were watching two light phased ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, an AMERICAN KESTREL & 
2 RED-TAILED HAWKS, a female NORTHERN HARRIER started quartering over the 
field on the north side, I turned to look at the Lapland Longspurs and as I 
looked up I saw what I thought was the Harrier flying over the road but then 
to my surprise, noticed the "moth-like" flight and dark wrist patches of a 
SHORT-EARED OWL which landed in a willow on the south side of the road about 
100m away, good views in the scope, could even see the "ears".
As I was pointing out the owl, we then had an orangey-buff bird fly over 
with about 20 Horned Larks but the bird never landed (probably the SMLO but 
could have been an American Pipit).  After another 30-45 minutes, at around 
11:15am (and less than 5 minutes after John Miles took off, sorry John) the 
SMITH'S LONGSPUR was seen with the large flock of Snow Buntings picking up 
grit at the side of the road, and as Terry Osborne notes with the Peel bird, 
it seemed to stay beside rather than mixed in with the Buntings.  I was able 
to watch this bird for about 1 minute before it took off (10 seconds after 
the rest of the flock).  It's facial markings are pretty striking, somewhere 
between the breeding plumage male and the winter plumage male in the 
National Geographic Field Guide, also in flight you really can make out the 
orangey colour even at the other side of the field (300-400m away), when it 
lands the white outer retrices really show quite strongly.  We were able to 
see it in flight over the field and it landed out there as well but views 
were quite distant and not enough when you're looking at such a rare find!

As you can tell from the above, it can be a bit of a wait sometimes (almost 
2hrs for me today), nice life bird though!  Thanks John (& group).

As I left the area I drove east on 2nd Concession and at the next house 
along I had a very close-up view of a female RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and a 
good sized flock of about 50 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS.

Good birding,

Frank Pinilla
Richmond Hill, ON

DIRECTIONS:

Hwy 6 south from Hamilton, beyond Caledonia and the hamlet of Willow Grove 
you will see Oneida Twp. Concession 2 running east/left, the field where the 
Buntings, Larks & Longspurs are is around the small bridge on the left/north 
side of 2nd Conc., stay on the road and the birds will eventually come to 
you (might be best to have a scope though).

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"Frank Pinilla" <frankpinilla at hotmail.com>



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