96 and 97

I really wasn’t planning on birding today or trying to push Evan’s life list total.  Honest. We’re only after a couple species of ducks now, so it isn’t worth driving to Willmar each day just to scan through the hundreds of birds for the one we want.  Steve and I are keeping watch for each other’s target birds, and since he checks the lake each day we are just waiting for the call on our species.

Steve is doing a Big Year competition with his brother, and one of his latest targets is the Lapland Longspur, a sparrow-size bird that is only around in the winter.  Today when I left work I decided on a whim to take a different, albeit indirect, route home on some gravel roads.  I saw plenty of birds but nothing terribly interesting until I made my final turn just a mile from my house.  A large flock of darker sparrow-sized birds flushed into the corn stubble.  They fit the profile of the Lapland Longspur.  I watched them in the field for a bit and then texted Steve that I think I found his bird.

After supper Steve called me and said he wanted to come out to take a look.  Ten minutes later, Evan and I hopped into Steve’s car to look for our target.  I just expected we’d race out to the spot to check, but Steve has a keen eye and stopped to check out some birds along the way.  It’s a good thing we did because we might have missed this bird for #96 – the Western Meadowlark.

A couple minutes later we were at our destination, and I spotted movement in the black field in front of us right away.  We glassed the field and found our target, #97, the Lapland Longspur!  There were about 50 of these guys busily moving in the plowed field.  It was tough to get a decent picture.  We got to watch them for about 5 minutes before something scared them off.

This was classic birding to get our target and add a couple birds to our life lists all while helping a fellow birder.  So, what will Evan’s 100th be?  I’ve got something up my sleeve to make #100 extra special.  I’m just worried that we’ll hit 100 before this plan takes shape!

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