I didn't manage to get any pictures of these birds myself, but here's a glimpse:
|Female McCown's Longspur. image courtesy birdzilla|
|Male McCown's Longspur. Photo by Shawn Billerman via allaboutbirds.org.|
Longspurs like short grass. For all that the Wyoming prairie seems to be endlessly the same, it isn't. I was constantly surprised at the variety of habitats. Every field is different. Wet sedge fields were good for Snipe and (rarer) Cinnamon Teal. We got a fair number of Ferruginous Hawks, once a pair thermalling against a white cloud. Once in the distance we picked up a pair of young Sandhill Cranes... the only Sandhills of our entire trip! And once we got an immature Bald Eagle, right over my head. That was near Hutton Lake.
More views of the Basin:
Now I'm going to quote from my Notebook of the time, May 29, 2016.
"Best Birding Day Ever!
"It began with a McGillivray's Warbler and ended with a Common Merg. In between we had 71 birds: Bald Eagle, Broad-Tailed Hummingbird, Phalaropes, Canvasbacks, 1 Snipe "head-on", a Yellow-Rumped, several Cinnamon Teal, dozens of McCown's Longspurs -- and to top it off, the catch of the year, rara avis White Ibis, two thousand miles out of range and a thousand feet up, thermalling against storm clouds at dusk with 30 other Ibis -- of the White-Faced variety. Which meant they were black, as black as Glossies. They came spiralling out of the far skies from the E S East, circled ever closer until they were right over our heads, and then faded off into the distance, in the same direction. I ran out with the camera and got 7 pictures but alas, the single white flake bird amongst all those black flakes was not caught. : ( He (or she) was too far off to one side at the time."
In my memory the whiteness stood out. At first I thought it was a Snow Goose. The closer they came, the more I thought "geese or ducks." When they were overhead, I realized they were Ibis, a somewhat common bird of wet meadows and irrigated pastures. But western Ibis are dark, glossy black all over except for a narrow white rim around the face. White Ibis occur in Florida and along coastal Lousiana and Texas...
Have you ever taken shots of something you were sure you missed, but later looked more closely and discovered you'd gotten it after all? It's a delayed thrill, but a thrill none the less. The location of our rare bird sighting was Hattie Lake.
Imagine me dashing out into the cold grey wind and frantically aiming upward as the flock drifts overhead:
Below is an enlargement of the top center portion of the above shot.
...look in the lower center. Although I can pick out black tips and the size is clearly larger, there is just no telling for sure!! particularly when I recall he/she truly was at the edge of the flock by then.
I look forward to returning next year.
Maybe then I can get a Chestnut-collared.