December 26, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Life bird: Snow Bunting!

Thanks to e-mail alerts from Baxter Beamer and Gabriel Mapel, two young birders in our area, I was able to see a Snow Bunting today: my 463rd life bird! This species breeds in far northern Canada and only rarely ventures this far south during the winter months. In spite of the gloomy skies, early this afternoon I drove up to the designated location, a couple miles northeast of New Hope. While en route, I saw an American Kestrel but failed to get a photo. Soon after arriving (at the intersection of Strickley Road and Custard Lane), I heard some odd peeps up above. Eventually I saw a large flock of Horned Larks that kept moving around the pasture in sudden "bursts" whenever the cows approached. There must have been at least 50 of the latter, and some of them flew right overhead, quite close by. I did not see the Lapland Longspur that was also reported there, however.

A couple miles south of there, I spotted at least 20 American Pipits in an adjacent field. While on that road (Route 865) on the way to Waynesboro, I also saw an immature Bald Eagle, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a Red-shouldered Hawk which was oddly perched on the ground before it flew up into a tree. Once in Waynesboro I headed to the Invista Pond, where I spotted a Horned Grebe; it was the very same place where I had seen one in March 2015, in a transitional molt to breeding plumage. There were also three American Coots and a Belted Kingfisher. Quite a big day after Christmas!

Montage 26 Dec 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Pipit, Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, Horned Grebe. Roll your mouse over the image to see a the front side of the Snow Bunting. Other larger-sized photos can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly photo gallery page.

My Life bird list page has been duly updated. I only saw two new species this year.