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.

John Fussell
Morehead City, NC


 
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