For the past several days there has been a flock of Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and Lapland Longspurs in Lima Twp., Washtenaw Co., MI that has numbered up to 2000 birds. This morning Robin and I drove out to Easton Rd. between Dancer Rd. and Steinbach Rd. where the birds were reported yesterday by Curt Powell.
We cruised Easton Rd. slowly and searched the corn stubble fields hoping to see some birds. It was not until a small flock of 100 Snow Buntings lifted off from the field, flew overhead, and landed several hundred yards to the east of our location. Though severely backlit by the rising sun we spotted hundreds of birds flowing back and forth along the edge of the corn field. Too far to ID w/ the binoculars I grabbed the scope and scanned the flock, seeing hundreds of Horned Larks perched atop the stubble while hundreds more Snow Buntings picked through the open fields. Lapland Longspurs were fewer in number, approximately 1 for every 10-20 Horned Larks seen. Too far to digiscope, I could only grab a few flight shots from 100 yds. w/ the Nikon D300/Sigma 400mm.
We continued on to Vreeland Rd. (between Harris Rd. and Gottfredson Rd.) where we spotted a Rough-legged Hawk hovering next to the road. The bird then perched atop a tree 50 yds. down the road. As I removed the scope from the back of the car, the hawk took off, and flew right past us, affording wonderful views. An immature light-phased Rough-legged Hawk! Note the black belly band, and the limited tan coloration between black elbow patches. I was even able to make out a light-colored eye that is darker on adult birds.
It landed about 100 yds. behind us in a tree, so I walked back toward it to see if I could digiscope it. It took off again, circling a few times, before flying back overhead and disappearing in the fields next to the Ford Cherry Hill Farm. Lovely bird!