Sunday, February 2, 2014

I've Got a Twitch- For a Sprague's Pipit

As a member of several birding groups on Facebook- especially surrounding states- I am always looking for rarities being reported. I mostly chase in Tennessee, but couldn't ignore reports of Sprague's Pipits (and some uncommon gulls as well) in northwest Mississippi.

So, with all five of my kids in tow, I make the 500 mile round trip to Robinsonville and Sardis Lake in somewhat nearby Sardis, MS.

The first stop is Sardis for reported Lesser Black-backed and Glaucous Gulls. Both of which I would dip on. But, that is the nature of the chase. My next stop would be Arkabutla Dam, as it's on the way to the Sprague's Pipit spot. While I find more gulls there, and a possible Great Black-backed (however none of the photos cinch the ID, so I cannot add it to my list), I still dip on anything uncommon.

Onto the next spot- Buck Island Road. This spot hosted about 16 different Northern Harriers, which put on a show the entire time I was there scanning for Short-eared Owls. A quick drive down the road got me the bird I was really twitching for- the Sprague's Pipit. While it was too far for my measly 300mm lens to get great shots, I got IDable ones. He stood out like a sore thumb amongst the darker, and far more numerous Savannah Sparrows. I would also see Lapland Longspurs and Horned Larks in the surrounding fields.

Sprague's Pipit #208

Before leaving, I watch two Harriers dive-bomb a Short-eared Owl (#209)... this trip ending with 209 year birds and a new lifer.

Today was a day of rest. I have driven over 4000 miles in the past month, and needed a day to relax. This week: back to chasing and finding more birds for the year.

Until next time-
Happy birding to all of you!

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