Date: 10/6/18 4:19 pm From: William H Kaempfer <William.Kaempfer...> Subject: [cobirds] Sprague's Pipit--Sandy Bluffs Land Trust and SWA, Yuma
I went out to Wray last night (Friday), 30-40 MPH winds limited the bird observations, but I did have a late Osprey over Stalker Pond.
My objective was to look for Sprague's Pipit today, but on my way to Pipit Hill east of Idalia, I made it a point to visit Sandy Bluffs State Land Trust and SWA which is nine miles north of Idalia. To this point, this has been David Dowell's private Hot Spot, but I wanted to try to get to 2nd place on the top eBirders list for the spot. I suspected that wouldn't be too hard, as no one else has submitted a list for the SWA.
As I drove down from Vernon, outside Wray, I was thinking that the habitat looked good for Sprague's Pipit outside the riparian corridor at the SWA itself. I actually found a county road (track really) heading west into the sandsage, and gave it a try. It only took about a ½ mile drive (during which a Burrowing Owl shot out of a burrow in a bank on the edge of the road) and a 100 yard traipse before I started hearing the distinctive call notes of several SPPI. Soon I had one in view only about 50 feet away, running through very short grass prairie rather than hiding in longer forbs. Pretty soon it took flight, doing the classic climb, lead balloon drop and abrupt zig-zag just before it reach ground.
I had achieved my two goals, finding Sprague's Pipit and getting to 2nd place among top eBirders for Sandy Bluffs State Land Trust and SWA. But since the site is sort of a re-do of TNC's Fox Ranch 10 miles further west, I went exploring. It took a while to get to something other than open cottonwoods along the (dry) river bed, but eventually it closed in with lots of olives, willows and "cedars". Quite a few birds, but nothing spectacular. However, I could see how David had already reported 114 species for the spot (which, by the way, is closed in the summer).
I came home via Last Chance where there were a couple Wilson's Warblers hanging around and a female Cassin's Finch.