Date: 10/18/19 8:34 am
From: CHELEMER, MARC J <mc2496...>
Subject: [JERSEYBI] Sparrow Searching Day 1 and 2

Yesterday, I visited the Finderne Wetlands south of Manville in Somerset County. The grasses didn't seem quite as high nor quite as dense as in previous years, and the wind was mighty fierce for the whole two hours that I was there. I thought, as I was about halfway around the 2-mile loop, that a better birding choice would've been Chimney Rock Hawkwatch, about a mile away as the raptor flies. For in the time that I searched for sparrows, I observed three Sharp-shinned Hawks, a Cooper's Hawk, a Kestrel harassing the Cooper's, three Bald Eagles, numerous Turkey Vultures, and three Red-tailed Hawks. Sparrows kept very low to the ground. There were so many Song Sparrows, it became a bit frustrating. The best bird was an Eastern Meadowlark, which rode the blustery wind into an effortless glide-up landing in the tip-top of a tree. It took a moment to mentally process this bright yellow-fronted bird into a Meadowlark; I had the brief thought, considering Vincent Nichnadowicz's find of Wednesday, that it might be a female Yellow-headed Blackbird. Nope...but a Meadowlark was a nice find.

Today, it was the brushy edges and wild grass-filled fields of Duke Farms where I cast my binoculared eyes. Sparrow-watching, I am coming to realize, is in many ways like warbler watching in the Spring: the birds are in constant motion, chasing each other incessantly, the individuals are uniquely patterned once one gets used to everything being in shades of yellow, brown, rufous, black, white, and gray, and the mixed flocks move through the vegetation the way a warbler flock moves through the treetops. The nice thing about sparrows is that, for the most part, they're down neck strain. The challenging part is that they tend to dive into the underbrush after short flights in the open, so it takes some skill (which I definitely don't have yet) to identify species by the Zip! view one gets in that two-second across-the-trail dash.

By patiently waiting in one spot and checking every single sparrow which hopped up onto a metal structure out in a field, I did, finally, see a Vesper Sparrow, but of course a Savannah chased it away after about ten seconds. Wow...those white edged tail feathers are bright! And in another very large mixed flock, there were Song, Savannah, Swamp, White-throated, one juvie White-crowned, Field, and two really stunning Lincoln's. One of the Lincoln's had such a bright eye ring that, when I first saw it slightly hidden in the bushes, I thought it another Vesper. I'm sure there WERE more Vespers in the area, but I had to head to work. The grasses and bushes seem full of seed and fruit, so I imagine there will be many more possibilities to find them.

Good birding!

Marc Chelemer

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