Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lapland Longspurs! - 26 Jan 2013

I took a ride out to the old Visteon HQ / Grace Lake Industrial Park (Tyler Rd. and Haggerty) to look for gulls. A large flock was circling overhead, but the lake itself was frozen, snow-covered and void of birds. So I took a ride over to Willow Run Airport to see if there were any hawks about.

Along the side of the hill just outside the airport fenceline a small flock of Snow Buntings were foraging in the snow. As I put my binoculars on them I noticed a good number of Lapland Longspurs were present, as well! With noone around I pulled out the scope and realized that better than half of the birds were Lapland Longspurs. A few Horned Larks were present, but they tended to stay as a small flock of 2 dozen birds just out of range of the much larger flock.

At one point the entire flock lifted off, and resettled in three locations. The closest group of birds numbered almost 300 birds, so I estimated 400 birds total. Of the photos I took of the flock it was a near 50/50 split of Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings. Lighting was horrible (again) but I did manage some captures through the fence.  On the more heavily-cropped images I applied some dry-brush filters to salvage the degraded images.

Willow Run Airport 2, Wayne, US-MI
Jan 26, 2013 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Protocol: Stationary
Comments:     Large flock of Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs - 400 birds total; estimated 50/50 mix from numerous photos taken of flock as it foraged in hay/grass on side of hill.  Horned Larks were few, and tended to stay toward perimeter or separate from larger feeding group.  Hoped to find a Smith's Longspur but didn't...
3 species

Horned Lark  30     small flocks foraged by themselves apart from much larger flock of Snow Buntings/Lapland Longspurs
Lapland Longspur  200     Of 192 birds counted from photographs 97 were Lapland Longspurs and 92 were Snow Buntings
Snow Bunting  180     Snow Buntings actually fewer in number than Longspurs!  see above.

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


GumbyandPokey said...

Such pretty birds. I still don't have a Longspur on my list.

Cindi Martineau

Sjerp Weima said...

Love these cool shots of cool birds in a harsh environment.
Thanks for sharing,

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