The Lapland Longspur is currently, in my estimate, the most abundant breeding bird at Daring Lake. A day in Research Valley isn’t complete without the constant song of the Longspur. Typically, the valley is where I find these birds. They do not seem very numerous within our camp boundary or on the eskers. The females I mostly see hopping amongst the hummocks, only flying when I get too close. On the other hand, the males are typically seen performing their breeding display; flying up into the air and then gliding back to the ground with their tails fanned and their wings held out in a V position. While they glide, the males sing their flutey tune that reminds me of either the beeps and whistles of Star Wars’ R2D2, or of an alien space saucer coming in for landing.
I suspect that once the young have left the nest, the adults are quick to leave the region. I say this because last year I have few recorded observations of any Lapland Longspurs after my early July arrival. However this could also be a product of my extreme newness to birding last summer, or the terrible weather that hung over us for the first half of July. I will try to keep good record this year of my daily sightings to track their migration away from Daring to their wintering grounds in southern Canada and the USA.
Where humans and wildlife intersect, there will always be interesting stories of our interactions. At one of the research sites in Research Valley there are a series of plots that contain cranberry shoots individually marked with twist-ties. These specific cranberry shoots are being monitored weekly for the timing of specific phenological (life cycle) events. Recently when we’ve been arriving at these plots to find some of the twist-ties removed from the shoots and casually thrown aside. Blame has been placed on the Longspurs who perch on out plot posts and watch us cheekily (anthropomorphizing a bit). Birds against plant science. Though perhaps it is the American Tree Sparrows or the Savannah Sparrows that also occupy the valley who deserve the blame.