After our unexpected Thanksgiving snowfall, I spent Black Friday hitting up a few local spots. Things were quiet everywhere. Maybe the birds were as surprised as we were! Farmers hadn’t had time to spread manure yet, so the fields glittered in the sun while a few sparrows foraged for weed seeds.
This Song Sparrow and a half-dozen friends dipped in and out of the snow under the watchful eyes of a late-lingering American Kestrel.
The Thursday Group went down to Papscannee in the beautiful stretch of amazingly rain-free days last week. Some sandpipers, some ducks, aaannndd I’m sorry, all the shorebirds look too alike for me (except for co-operative Dunlins, see later post). We got really nice looks at a Lincoln’s Sparrow, not common around here. Then a flock of little birds with white feathers bordering their tails flew over. Their flight pattern resembled the undulation of Goldfinches, but faster, more erratic and abrupt, then they disappeared into tall grass. American Pipits! They popped out of the grass, circled overhead with a flight call of ‘pip-pit, pip-pit’ and then zoom out of sight again. I could see the white outer tail feathers like a Junco, but a slimmer, lighter-colored bird with a buffy color underlying the streaked breast.
Two new species for my life list! But I wasn’t really satisfied with my look at the Pipit. When I add a Life Bird, I like to have a Life Look at it. They never stopped moving and once down, determinedly skulked. So today being the last nice day predicted for some time, I headed back for another try. And there they were! Foraging in the open, about 15 feet from the car window. I had several minutes to study them so close two birds filled my binocs, until a car sped down the dirt road scaring up crows and Pipits (Pipits. I just like the name.) What had seemed to be a small flock turned out to be at least 60 birds hidden in the stubble. Over the next hour I watched as they moved from corn to grass to mud in constant restless action. I tried getting pictures, but… you can guess. So here’s a picture by a pro.
American Pipit ©Clay Taylor, from Swarovski Optik Digiscoping Gallery.
Dig those crazy-long nails. Pipit!