Monday, October 8, 2012

More Westborough-More Sparrows

Alan and I decided to head to Westborough again today with the first stop being Heirloom Harvest CSA  (see link for a great write up by Steve) which would be alive with bird activity including many sparrows, warblers and a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets thrown in for good measure.  This would be both our first times birding here and we'd be taken aback by how large it is as well as the birds who'd be everywhere with most of them being fall migrating sparrows hidden below by shrubbery vs spring  migrating warblers who are hidden above by leaf cover and I seriously don't know which of the two is more frustrating, but welcome to the world of birding.

It seemed as if where ever we went, we'd find flocks of birds flying around and whenever they decided to land, it would be under cover so when one was kind of enough to pop up, we'd both try and get our bins on the bird before it decided to pop down or get chased by another bird.  I'd remember something Rodney said yesterday about how Savannah Sparrow's have a tendency to dive down into cover when they drop from flight and would notice that myself today as I'd see a lot of it and be grateful whenever one decided to pop up long enough for a look and photo.

The American Pipit's would be out and about as well and they too would be hidden by cover  but we did get brief glimpses of them on occasion!

Some kind of cool fungus very suitable for autumn we spotted on the way out.  It would be here we'd have the majority of our warblers again including Yellow-rumped and Palm as well as a large flock of Chipping Sparrows.  All in all a really cool place to bird (just set aside a good amount of time) so get out there and check it out if you can.

Next would be Big Chauncey hoping for more migrating ducks but fishermen would be out in boats enjoying the nice fall day so we didn't get much obviously.  Which was okay by us as songbirds would be everywhere so we decided to check out what was around.  We'd be making our way around the heavy brush and soccer field and see many sparrows with the Swamp being the most numerous just as it often is in this area.  It wouldn't take long for a bird to pop out of cover and into view and I'd be thrilled to see it was an adult White-crowned Sparrow.

Swoon!  Seriously, an incredibly handsome bird.  I put it in the category of alpha bird which are birds that are just so cool and regal they have a special class of their own (I also put Northern Cardinal and Eastern Kingbird in that category).  I'd be totally re-energized by the White-crowned that I was convinced we'd find other great birds along the trail so we headed there and then be reminded why it can be a challenge at times when trying to find skittish birds.

Ah yes, the infamous dog walker and their dogs.  It's a paradox for someone like me who loves dogs and can't help but notice them, but realize wherever they go, the birds flee but we held out hope just the same.

And the other perils or birding where dogs are popular is stepping in dog shit.  Seriously watch where your'e walking or you'll be sorry as both Alan and I managed to do it and I almost slipped and fell while doing so!  HA.  Best word of advise is to stay right on the trail that have no grass as the grass right along the main trails seem to be where the dogs like to do their duty most.

Is it just me or does this dog look guilty to you???

Despite the dogs we did manage to see quite a few birds including the very numerous Swamp Sparrows like the one above that really caught my eye due to the hints of yellow I'd see in it.

So i'd do one of my favorite things to do after a day of birding and that is dig out all of my field guides for more study and go to The Sparrows of the United States and Canada and be particular interested in plate 43e which is a juvenile Swamp Sparrow where the author refers to the "Face and breast buffy" which would be something I never paid much attention to before today so it was a nifty thing to discover!

We'd continue along our way and be graced again with the presence of another adult White-crowned Sparrow which one can never tire of but do wish the picture came out better.

It would be around here we'd encounter a large pocket of birds in the same general area Tim had the Dickcissel a couple of weeks back so we'd spend some time pishing around and get quite a few birds including this sparrow above who'd appear to have the potential as a Lincoln's Sparrow at fist glance, especially with the crown feathers fluffed out like that which I've very seldom seen in a Song Sparrow but that's what it is folks.  Sometimes this sparrow gets over looked as its a year long resident so it's nice to have a reminder just how pretty they are on occasion.

We'd make our way back to the car but not before going to the area we had the last White-crowned Sparrow and come to a place I'd fall in love with instantly as it reminded me of my favorite places to play as a child which would be the woods with enough space for movement to make it feel like ones own mini fortress.  A decent sized line of trees such as the one above would be close to one another but not close enough for get a Saw-whet I'm guessing as there aren't enough- but it was still neat to see and am so going back there to do some playing when I get a chance.  Birds found this habitat appealing as well including a few Palm Warblers and one lone Blue Jay who'd come in to see what was going on as we played the Saw-whet call just in case of course!

The day wold be so nice I'd head home for lunch and then head out to do some work on my much neglected blocks and chose an area I had pegged for good sparrows come fall so off I went.  The place would be rather quiet with it being mid day and all but did manage to see many of the regulars including the Song Sparrows and a Common Yellowthroat still skulking around.  I'd then see a Great Blue Heron fly in and assumed it was going to land in or near the river but I'd soon be proven wrong.

as the odd heron would land smack dab in the middle of a large sand pit directly across the Blackstone River!

Where it would proceed to walk toward a path that would be away from the river (and all water for that matter) and into a thickly vegetated path of some sort.

Seriously, it's moments like these I continue to bird because even the most common birds continue to mystify me at times and this would be another instance.  I have no idea what was going on through its mind but it was interesting to say the least.

I would be disappointed in my overall sparrow numbers as I was really hoping for a White-crowned or Lincoln's but what does one expect when one birds mid day.  I did pick up a couple of Swamp Sparrows though which would be a new block bird for me which is always welcome.

And finally I leave with with a couple of links I thought I'd share as I was doing some googling after Rodney's remark yesterday regarding the Savannah Sparrows and came across a couple of links by David Sibley which aren't really related, but interesting just the same.

Sibley's Probability in Bird Identification

Sibley's Identifying Songbirds by Flocking Behavior

Take care all.


Dawn Puliafico said...

That white-crowned sparrow is a beauty!

Kim said...

Thanks Dawn! It's been a photo nemesis bird of mine for years so it was nice to finally get a half way decent photo of it. It certainly is a beauty!


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