For the past 10 days or so, people have been reporting Smith's Longspur here and there in my area. I've only seen this species once, in Arkansas in 2006, and badly wanted to see one for my Minnesota list. So last weekend Russ and I went to Two Harbors in search of one, but without luck. Another turned up this week at the old Stella Jones Pier in west Duluth. I missed it there on Wednesday, but yesterday, Russ and I headed there during his lunch break. Of course, Pip the birding dog came along.
I had a tricky time finding the one little buffy outlier among a few large flocks of Lapland Longspurs. I got two excellent but quick looks before it flew each time. The first time it flew just as I was grabbing my camera; the second time I kept it in view through my binoculars in flight and got a great look at but no photos of the wider amount of white edging the tail compared to the other birds—Smith's Longspur has two white outer tail feathers while the Lapland Longspur has only one.
I'm sure Pip has been with me at least once before when I've seen Lapland Longspurs, but I've somehow neglected to add that fairly common species to her life list until yesterday. So her new total is now up to 270! She seemed happy when I told her that, in the same way that she's happy when I tell her the Cubs won, or say, "Look, Pip! It's stopped raining!" or "Look, Pip! It's raining!"
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