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Lapland Longspur | Calcarius lapponicus | Plectrophane lapon | by Paul B Jones
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Lapland Longspur | Calcarius lapponicus | Plectrophane lapon

Happy holidays flickr world!

 

There was a good snowfall in the Ottawa Valley last evening, covering everything in a deep white blanket. The plow operators worked hard through the night, allowing my wife and I to head out first thing in the morning to explore the fields east of our city. One thing the plows do is clear the snow down to the ground on rural road edges, creating a grassy strip that attracts Snow Buntings, Horned Larks and occasionally Lapland Longspurs. The birds feed on the weed seeds exposed by the blade, and pick up bits of grit to aid in digestion.

 

Typically the flocks are wary, not of vehicles, but of anyone on foot. I have attempted to walk up to the birds, only to have them repeatedly bump down the road 100 metres or so until I give up in frustration. Today, a group of longspurs we encountered seemed a little less flighty so I decided to try again - with a new plan. As my wife slowly drove our truck towards the birds I trudged along behind, like a foot soldier following a tank. When we had closed to within ten metres she stopped and I crept up beside the vehicle and dropped down into the snow. Success! Or a reasonable approximation thereof.

 

It was close to noon when we encountered the birds and the sun was at its height, blasting brightly and heating the roadside just enough to create atmospheric distortion. So the image quality isn't perfect, but I am still happy with the photo.

 

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Taken on December 24, 2017