Friday, October 7, 2011

Birding Sterling

I headed out to Sterling today in hopes for my much needed sparrows, but decided to go the scenic route which is Rt 140 all the way from Grafton to Sterling to avoid the 290 traffic during the weekday rush hour. Since I was driving by St Philips, I decided to make a quick stop to see if anything dropped in during the night and was glad that I did as I got a FOY Black-crowned Night Heron.

After that it would be off to Sterling Peat for the Pied-billed Grebe that's been reported there. There was plenty of passerine activity along the path to where the grebes been spotted most including quite a few butter butts and a nice look at a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

After a bit of searching I'd get my bins on it to make a confirmation and then I'd hear some wing fluttering behind me so pished it out to realize it was yet another Song Sparrow which I knew all along due to its high pitched call note, but one can never be too sure. Anyhow, I'd go back to the grebe and realize it hadn't moved since I last looked. WTH? I'd think. I'd move to another angle and it was still motionless. I stood there confused and slightly embarrassed thinking I had just identified a tree stump as a grebe, but soon enough the little bugger moved which caused a sigh or relief on my part and an attempt for a photo like the lousy one above.

After that it would be off to Kristoff Pig Farm where weather conditions had greatly improved since my last visit.

I didn't see much warbler activity going in, but did see a few Palm Warblers and many Yellow-rumped Warbler's that seemed to be everywhere with their dry call notes.

I decided to head on a path I didn't take last week and it looked really "birdy" so off I went to explore.

Birds would be everywhere, including many sparrows so I was about to partake in my new game called "Make me a Lincoln's". There were many contestants eager to play including the usual Song Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows and this White-throated Sparrow in the photo above who appeared to be a little camera shy.

I'd come to an open area with plenty of sunshine and birds everywhere. I'd have my binoculars on an Eastern Phoebe, when suddenly I could see a bird fly from some brush and continue to fly directly above me which allowed me a good view and the first thing that would come to mind while in flight is that it looked like a "honkin' Field Sparrow with a notched tail.

My radar would go up because I think immature White-crowned Sparrows have similar colors to the Field Sparrow with the pinkish bill and warm coloring. The bird would never do me the honors of turning around when I got my camera out, but I did get a really nice look at it through my binoculars. Not as nice as an adult male, but it's still a striking bird. The bird would even attempt to break into song, but gave up after a few failed notes much to my disappointment as I love the White-crowned Sparrow's song.

I'd be walking along after spending another 10 minutes or so in that area and realized I'd flushed a bird with my walking. I saw exactly where it landed so it was easy to get my bins on it. It stared directly at me and the first thing that came to my mind was "Holy sh*t, I've got a Lincoln's".

I stared at it as it stared back in return and swooned because I wasn't expecting it to be as good looking as it was so it took me by surprise.

I mean seriously, how can one not swoon over the picture above. So cute!

Playing peek a boo with me as I continued to swoon.
Being a total ham for the camera, the sparrow decided to hop to another branch so I could swoon some more.

Double swoon as I caught in one of its hops.
Sigh, what a FANTASTIC bird. I'll go on record and not only call this my favorite bird for the month of October, but for the entire year. I didn't expect to get it as easily as I did and when I did get it, I expected to get a lousy view like I had in the past, so this was such a treat. It's reasons like these that I continue to bird.

It's funny because I ran into Dan last week and we were talking birds of course and I was telling him my frustrations with trying to get and ID a Lincoln's and he told me not to worry as "I'd know it when I saw it" and he was right. The first instant my binoculars made contact with that bird it clicked and it reminded me nothing of either a Song Sparrow or a Swamp Sparrow which were my major concerns.

The camera and bird Gods continued to be in my favor and I was able to get my best photo of a Blue-headed Vireo yet. So much different than the ones I encountered at Quabbin or Purgatory when all I usually are lousy butt shots. On the way out of Kristoff I'd get a really nice look at a Hermit Thrush which was another added bonus so all in all, it was a great day of birding.

Take care all

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