Date: 2/10/18 2:13 pm
From: will russell <wcr100...>
Subject: [AZNMbirds] Davis Pasture
I drove this morning to the ‘longspur’ spot in Davis Pasture, arriving about 7:40 am. I parked near the top of a small hill on the southeast side about 150 feet away from the small keyhole shaped pond. With the sun at my back and my vehicle as a windbreak, I sat for about two hours with my telescope watching the ebb and flow of creatures coming in to drink.

Most notable was the extraordinary number of Savannah Sparrows. At one point, in a fast scan of the entire pond edge, I counted 138 Savannahs drinking simultaneously. Ten minuted later there were just under 100. Unless there was a group of several hundred Savannahs with unquenchable thirsts, and given that each bird appeared to spend less (and often a lot less) than two minutes at the waters edge, I must have seen thousands. Scanning the grasslands, sparrows could be seen approaching the water from near and far. They would stop a few hundred feet short of the lake and slowly work their way down to the water. The numbers were greater before 9 am but when I left there were still 15-20 Savannahs at the water’s edge. This tank must be one of the few sources of water in thousands (or even I suppose tens of thousands ) of acres.

The dynamic action and vocals were provided by Chestnut-collared Longspurs, arriving every few minutes in fast moving flocks that swirled around the lake a few time before settling. They’re masters of the quick sip for the flocks were often gone before I could train my scope.

I was surprised by how many Eastern Meadowlarks came to drink - assuming little or no overlap, several hundred - but it’s been so dry that birds that normally generate (most of) their necessary water metabolically are probably drawn to water holes.

I spent most of my time focused on one corner of the pond and other bird species that came to this limited bit of the water’s edge included Horned Lark (50), Baird’s (8), Grasshopper (6), and Vesper (5) Sparrows, and five or six Mourning Doves. With all the small birds I was surprised to see no raptors but much of my time was spent peering through a telescope and I’m sure I missed things. Still when there was an audible mass departure of drinking birds, I looked around. There were many more Horned Larks flying about and in the surrounding bare ground and one or two McCown’s Longspurs were detected by call but were never seen.

One coyote and seven ‘cows’ were the only noticed mammals, humans included, and rounded out the water’s edge list.

Will Russell

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