Saturday, 9 January 2010

Not the sparrow I was looking for...

Headed off to the Nanaimo River Estuary this morning with the express intention of relocating the American tree sparrow I came across on Dec 31st.
Spent a good couple of hours working the hedgerow but I wasn't able to find any significant feeding groups of finches/sparrows apart from one very large gang of juncos which were about 70 metres away, on the wrong side of an impassable creek - right at the furthest, eastern end of the hedge. I scoped the group for some time but other than a few song sparrows and towhees I couldn't dig anything else out. Unfortunately they were only visible for a few minutes before disappearing off around the corner and away they went...
In the meantime a juv northern harrier had put in an appearance and I'd managed to pick out a lone Eurasian wigeon amongst a group of its common American congeners.
Flickers, belted kingfisher, a peregrine, a group of 42 red-winged blackbirds, Bewick's wrens, plus the usual bits and bobs kept me entertained(ish).
Returning to the big oak I noticed a group of golden-crowned sparrows feeding in the hedge base and despite my optimism found nothing among them bar the expected songs & towhees.
I headed off to the platform from where I noticed at least 12 gadwall out on the water with numerous pintail and American wigeon.
Returning to the oak I noticed the g.c. sparrow flock had now moved and were feeding on the gravel around the bottom of the brambles, more in the open. I had a quick look through them and BAM! A cracking white-throated sparrow! The bird was actively feeding amongst the other sparrows and when they started to drift over to the brush area by the river it joined them and disappeared into the undergrowth.
I tried some pishing bit it had little effect, so I crept slowly in to the area and accidentally flushed the birds which simply came up into a small tree in front of me where once again the white-throated showed alongside the many golden-crowneds. Nice.
Thankfully, having seen plenty of these distinctive sparrows before, I didn't have any problems identifying it!
I wonder what would be found (other than a pile of dead birds) at this brilliant site if feeders were established...

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