Lapland Longspur and ten species of raptors at Mono Lake

Observers: Justin Hite and Kristie Nelson
Email: justinhiteatgmaildotcom
Verification: sierra
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Date: 12/12/2006
Time: 05:15 PM -0500


Kristie Nelson and I went birding yesterday (12/11) at “Owl Meadow”, which is the extensive wet meadow along the north shore just lakeward of the County Ponds east of Black Point. 5 Short-eared Owls were patrolling with at least two or three Northern Harriers, and were a lot of fun to watch. Every now and then there would be a squabble between an Owl and a Harrier or even between two Owls. On one occasion we could hear the owls making their throaty calls at one another as they fought. We also flushed a single Barn Owl as we walked along the south edge of the meadow. This is a great bird for the Mono Basin in general, but even more for the time of year (there are no winter records in Gaines’ book). All told, we saw a total of ten species of raptors yesterday: the two owls and Northern Harriers, plus Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk (immature), American Kestrel, Prairie Falcon (barely missing a Pinyon Jay), Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk (beautiful adult), and a lonely adult Bald Eagle a mile away that sat on top of the fake volcano on Krakatoa for the entire hour and a half that we were at the meadow. Also, a single Lapland Longspur flew by us two times with a small group of Horned Larks while we were at the meadows, giving its rattling call.