Thursday, 31 December 2009


I managed to get a couple of hours free this afternoon so, despite the onset of some very wet rain and poor visibility, I headed down to the Nanaimo River Estuary.
For the first time in ages there were no other vehicles in the parking area and even if hunters had been there earlier it looked as if I might have the place to myself for a while at least.
It was pretty nasty though, and my optics were rain covered in no time at all. A scan over the marsh from the viewing platform was uneventful so I decided to trudge up the long hedgerow in search of passerines.
Overall it seemed pretty quiet until I came across the regular mixed flock feeding on the deck and in the hedge. Maybe I could relocate last Sunday's yellow-rumped warbler? Scanning through, I was pleased to see a fox sparrow then something smaller and paler caught my eye as it flew up into the hawthorns. I found it with my bins and I noticed it had a bright chestnut crown, clear pale grey supercilium that extended into the nape and back onto the cheek (ie it actually had a grey face broken by a dark eyestripe), a sort of 'smudge' onto the breast which also had an indistinct dark 'spot' on it and very bright wingbars.
Now, as a north American sparrow novice I wasn't 100% as to the identity of this bird and being a pillock I hadn't brought a field guide with me, so I spent a soggy half hour getting brief scope views, and trying to find the fidgety thing amongst the mass of commoner species in the ankle deep grass and tangles of hawthorn. Tree sparrow did seem the most likely but do I really know what a winter chipping sparrow looks like? Or are there others that fit this description that I've forgotten about?
Luckily, my notes were of a good enough standard to unequivocably confirm its ID as an American tree sparrow once I got home and better still it was actually a new bird for me!

So, it just remains for me to wish everyone a Happy New Year and here's to birdy 2010!

No comments:

Post a Comment