Date: 2/6/18 4:00 pm From: John Fussell <jofuss...> Subject: a Henslow's Sparrow search
Four of us (Marty Wall, Steve Howell, Jack Fennell, and I) spent all morning Sunday (4 February) on a search for Henslow's Sparrows, at Millis Road Savanna, Croatan National Forest, Carteret County.
We walked abreast, most of the time through the wetter, thicker grass cover portion of the savanna. We walked a total of about four miles, according to Marty's app (and I would say it sure felt like we walked that far). The savanna is in excellent condition now, because of a prescribed burn last summer.
We flushed one bird that was likely a Henslow's. We flushed it twice, but, unfortunately, we never got a good look at it to be sure. We did not see any other Henslow's candidates. We also flushed about 55 Swamp Sparrows. We also had 5 Bachman's Sparrows, but 4 of those were first located by calls.
I think about the Henslow's contrast between this year and the winter of 1980-1981 at the savanna. Habitat at the savanna that winter was also excellent (because of a June burn, started by a military operation), and it was fairly easy to flush one or more Henslow's on each visit. I estimated that there were at least 15 Henslow's at the savanna that winter, and my notes record that "Queenie" (my parents' dog) flushed 7 birds in 20 minutes one day in March.
I guess the big difference between this year and the winter of 1980-1981 probably reflects the general decline in the population of the species, especially in the more northeastern portion of the range. Or perhaps it is just luck, with more birds finding the savanna in the fall of 1980 than found it last fall.
Incidentally, John Voigt and I flushed several Henslow's in a power line corridor in pine savanna habitat at Camp Lejeune a few winters ago. That area had been burned the previous spring.