Date: 7/9/17 6:56 am
From: Alan Buriak <a_buriak...>
Subject: Misc. Breeding Birds, Imperial Grasslands, Allegheny County
I drove down to the Imperial Grasslands area this morning to see what I could turn up and after 5 stops across 2 and 1/2 hours I was able to get a good sample of the grassland/field breeders which are all becoming harder to find in Allegheny County, and several for which this area represents the last known accessible breeding location in the county. The areas I stopped were the William Dr area, the western side of the grasslands on Hebron Rd, King Rd near the county line, the main pond, and Solar Dr (I didn't have time to hit the truck stop or Robinson Rd). I summarized my observations of the most pertinent species below:

Henslow's Sparrow - 1
Despite the pipeline going right through the area, one bird was singing from across the far side of the pipeline at the west grasslands, faintly but clearly.

Prairie Warbler - 1
On King Rd right at the edge of the area that was cleared for development one bird was singing emphatically and actually came into some of the larger trees near the road for nice views. It does seem as if the land clearing has pushed this bird right up to the edge of the forest and I would be a little surprised if the species returns to the area next spring.

Grasshopper Sparrow - 8
A quite conservative count I am happy to say. Numbers no doubt have swelled with juveniles in the mix but still an encouraging sight with groups of birds at three separate locations. With the truck stop, which I did not go to, being a known location for GRSP, and assuming the west grasslands still have GRSP (none detected today), it means that they could be breeding in at least five different locations in the area. There were at least a couple singing near the end of Solar Dr, at least 3 at the GE cul-de-sac by the main pond, and also at least 3 in the field at the top of William Dr, which is the new road that turns at the retention pond on Burgettstown Rd. Since it was cleared for development, the field between William Dr and the Findlay Connector has grown back in and is pretty good habitat for the GRSP at the moment. For anyone that hasnt been out this way recently, the area at the sharp turn in King Rd just south of the main pond where GRSP used to breed has literally disappeared. King Rd has actually been rerouted and a large building has been built right where the road used to turn, meaning that if any GRSP would try to return to the breeding site, they would literally be inside a warehouse! This has me wondering if some of the birds from this site have moved to the field by William Dr, which of course is also intended for development, but at least it might show that the GRSP are successfully able to move around and find new habitat quickly (they will need that ability if they are to continue in this area!).

Field Sparrow - 7
Singing at every stop except the main pond.

Eastern Meadowlark - 4
A probable family group at the main pond and another singing on Solar Dr.

Willow Flycatcher - 7
All at Solar Dr, several singing, and at least two apparent family groups.

Ring-necked Pheasant - 1
One calling from the pasture behind GFS on Solar Dr.

Also a Green Heron and two Spotted Sandpipers were in the main pond and one Brown Thrasher was behind GFS. Given the events elsewhere in PA, admittedly I was hoping a Dickcissel would drift into Allegheny County as well, but no luck.

Good birding,
Alan Buriak
Gibsonia, Allegheny County

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
 
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