Monday, 26 July 2010

A Change of Scenery

I decided to give the mosquitoes a night off, and allow my back and shoulders to return to something like normality, and not bother with the estuary this evening. Besides which, the tide times are crap...
So, after work I took a lovely sunny stroll around Buttertubs Marsh. Of course it was pretty dull bird-wise and even the dragonflies were a bit thin on the ground.
Maybe that had something to do with the merlin that was hunting them, hobby-like, over the water.
The only wildfowl present were the numerous young and eclipse-plumage adult mallards, wood ducks and hooded mergansers. There were also 3 pied-billed grebe - always a pleasant sight.
I was listening out in case any rails were squabbling in the reeds, but there wasn't a peep. I'd have thought that with young birds about there'd be a bit of aural conflict here and there, but no. 
There was very little going on songbird-wise, visibly or audibly and other than the odd red-winged blackbird, common yellowthroat and Anna's hummingbirds it was pretty quiet. I did see a mink swimming by - pity it wasn't eating bullfrogs. Back to Holden Creek for me, I think...

Another mystery revealed...

OK - it's a quiet news day, so let's do the mystery bird thing!

First up - savannah sparrow. There are a couple of features here that might suggest this species, such as the strong facial pattern and obvious breast spot on a white belly.  There even appears to be a hint of a median crown stripe. But, the fine, buffy colouring and dark streaking on the chest and obvious grey feathering above the eye-stripe should be enough to eliminate savannah alone.

Nobody went for American tree sparrow – no surprise really, that was pretty much the joker in the pack.
So, how about song sparrow? I’m surprised this didn’t get more votes to be honest. I apologise for under-estimating the abilities of my readers… Again the fine dark streaking, on the chest and the flanks tend to rule out this highly variable species, and the overall build of the bird seems rather delicate, and doesn’t seem quite robust enough for song sparrow. This individual’s dark breast spot obviously failed to fool too many of you.

We finally come to Lincoln’s sparrow – the obvious favourite with 72% of those taking part going for this species. Well, do you think I’ve mentioned the fine warm toned breast and fine dark streaking enough? They’re pretty useful pointers, as is the broad grey eye-stripe and, what can be seen of the buff-coloured sub-moustachial stripe. As alluded to above, the bird seems to be rather dainty, which certainly implies Lincoln’s. And indeed, that’s what it is. The fine bill and buffy eye-ring are clearly visible on the shot on the left, as is that striking facial pattern.
As promised, in retaliation for the quality of responses so far being far too good, I’m hoping to baffle you all with the new mystery bird on the right…  Good luck! 

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