I spent a lovely day out at Pyramid Lake. Temps were in the high 60s to low
70's with a mild breeze.
I started out at the Willows, where I found the possible female/immature Purple
Finch that Martin found a few days ago. Most of the other birds there were the
same that Martin and Dennis mentioned, except I did have a female Varied Thrush,
and didn't find the Yellow Warbler or the Canyon Wren.
I stopped at various places along the way south. I did have a female Bufflehead
near the marina, and a few Greater Scaup at several locations. Still no Suft
Scoters that I could see.
At the Delta, there were 4 Tundra Swans, and 7 White Pelicans. I walked along
the edge of the mud towards the furthest part of the bay, when I spotted a very
bright, fat bird on the mudflat. There were several American Pipits nearby, and
a few Least Sandpipers. After watching this bird for about an hour, I was
convinced it was a Longspur, but I wasn't sure what kind, since I had stupidly
left my guidebook back in the car. I retrieved the book and returned to watch
the bird, and I am pretty certain it was a Lapland Longspur. I believe it was
an adult male in nonbreeding plumage. It had long, drooping wings with long
dark primary tips, and the greater wing coverts were rufous, with a thin white
wing bar. The face was very buffy, almost ocher-colored (but maybe that was the
lighting). A short distance behind its eye was a black line that circled around
its cheek. Outside of this dark line was some white. The nape was chestnut.
The belly was white with some broken streaks along its side and along its
shoulder. It also had a triangular black patch on its breast. I never could
see its tail pattern--any white on its tail was hidden, and it never flew. It
had 2 dark stripes on top of its head. I have really no experience with
Longspurs, so if someone has a better idea, please let me know. I do know that
this bird is a lot easier to see, waddling around an open mudflat, that to try
to find one in a field, flitting around with several hundred horned larks!
If someone wants to find this bird, I can tell you that for the 2 hours I
watched it, it never moved more than 10', and it was eating non-stop (I swear it
was waddling when it walked). Take the delta dirt road (by the lone cottonwood
tree--let me know if you don't know where that is). At the fork, stay left and
park at the wide spot in the road. Walk down towards the beach, but stay near
the vegetation line (it is pretty mucky in spots). Walk south about 250-300',
and look for the tire about half-way between the water and the vegetation line.
About 50' south of that is a somewhat flattened aluminum can, and just south of
that is a small wet spot, 30-50 feet in from the shore. That is where the bird
was hanging out.