Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Great Bay Blvd WMA 10/11--Clay-colored Sparrow

Last week I mentioned that I was giving warblers a couple of more days before I switched over to sparrows. Trips to Palmyra and Sandy Hook yielded a few warblers, but no big numbers. Sparrows though, after this rainy weekend, were abundant at Island Beach yesterday (along with Yellow-rumped Warblers, which I consider honorary sparrows), particularly White-throated Sparrows, which were present in the hundreds.

Savannah Sparrow
It was windy yesterday but today calmer, so I took a ride down to Great Bay Blvd hoping that the conditions would keep the sparrows from huddling in the reeds and grasses. At my favorite sparrow spot, just before the 2nd wooden bridge, there were mostly juncos with a Savannah Sparrow, a juvie White-throated Sparrow, a few Song Sparrows, a towhee, Chipping Sparrows, and best of all, my FOY Clay-colored Sparrow, just as I was hoping (I've seen one in this spot before). I couldn't get a picture of the Clay-colored. The Savannah will have to do.

I was hoping that the inlet would produce Nelson's Sparrow, the close cousin of the much more numerous Saltmarsh Sparrow which can usually be found running around like mice in grasses, but despite two walks along the beach I couldn't find any today. Last week, when it was windy, I saw a lot of sparrows diving for cover as I approached; none of them stayed in view long enough to determine species. I didn't even have that frustration today. Still, Clay-colored is a good one and a species I might not get for the rest of the year.

For the day I had 40 or so species. I tried mightily to determine whether the dowitchers I found were Short-billed or Long-billed, but distance and movement were against me.
40 species (+1 other taxa)
Brant  15 (a sure sign that winter is near)
Mute Swan  5
American Black Duck  2
Double-crested Cormorant  30
Great Blue Heron  10
Great Egret  25
Tricolored Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  10
Bald Eagle  1
Black-bellied Plover  8
Dunlin  4
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher  2
Greater Yellowlegs  10
Laughing Gull  10
Ring-billed Gull  2
Herring Gull  25
Great Black-backed Gull  6
Forster's Tern  5
Northern Flicker  3
Merlin  1
Eastern Phoebe  5
Brown Creeper  1
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
Golden-crowned Kinglet  4
Gray Catbird  1     Heard
European Starling  75
Palm Warbler  2
Pine Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  75
Chipping Sparrow  4
Clay-colored Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  20
White-crowned Sparrow  1
Savannah Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  6
Swamp Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  1
Northern Cardinal  4
Boat-tailed Grackle  80
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  1

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