[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2015] – I decided to try my luck again in the late afternoon at Fiesta Island dog park in Mission Bay and, in spite of arriving late at about 4:45pm, was not disappointed with the birds. I returned to where I had seen a mystery pipit flush yesterday afternoon and quickly located two Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus traveling together giving their loud “speeee” flight calls. They did not move far but remained well hidden in thicker vegetation and I only managed some brief looks.
I decided to keep on slowly walking around and at about 5:30 pm I flushed a Chestnut-collared Longspur Calcarius ornatus close to the location of the pipits. It called frequently, the pleasant sounding “kidedel” flight call, and did not move too far in short flights showing off much white in the tail. Unfortunately the light was failing pretty quickly and it remained well hidden among taller vegetation clumps. After several walk up flushes I finally got lucky and it made a short shift in position sideways, on a wind gust, and alighted on the open ground right in front of me! This appears to be a male with fine black underparts visible although with much pale brownish veiling of the feather edges. Similarly the chestnut collar is visible but muted by pale feather edges and the poor lighting. Also visible is the white lesser secondary coverts patch and, in a rather poor flight shot, the black-white tail pattern can be noted. This species has a quite small and darker horn colored bill also distinguishing it from McCown’s Longspur. It finally took off and disappeared east towards the wide open southeast section of the dog run.