Yesterday I felt like some Great Plains birding, so I drove out to the wide expansive grasslands south of Phillipsburg. This isn't a little town in Nebraska, though if you didn't know where you were, you might think it was.
Believe it or not, this is New Jersey. But it might as well be Nebraska. This area is called the Alpha Grasslands, and it is a traditional spot to find Rough-legged Hawk, Short-eared Owl, and the focus of my search--Lapland Longspur.
When I realized I couldn't remember the last time I saw a Lapland Longspur (I had flyovers in Texas back in the early 2000s), I figured I needed to make a bigger effort. So I drove over to Alpha (its not far, just the next county over) and drove around the area until I started seeing Horned Larks.
It didn't take long to see smaller birds mixed in with the larks in flight, but it took a bit of scope work to finally get a look at one on the ground. Here's an Alpha male longspur :-)
|Lapland Longspur, Alpha Grasslands, Warren Co, NJ 29 Jan 2013. Digiscoped HTC Incredible phone/Kowa 883.|
So, not the greatest shot. The birds were over 100 yards away in a field. But at least I got some decent scope looks at two birds. I could have spent a lot more time enjoying my Great Plains birding and maybe looking for other birds in with the larks, but duty called and I had to get back to work. But not before finding this locally rare Glaucous Gull out at Spruce Run Reservoir on my way home!