Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sparrow Drive at Weekie Wachie

We headed out to a new spot for this sparrow round-up and thing looked like they might be a little different as far as the weather was concerned. Maybe we could have a day off of the prairie and a chance to net birds out of the punishing winds that prevail far to the wide-open south.

No such luck.

A fast moving front appeared in the past couple of days and looked to smash into us just in time for the banding opportunity. Some weather reports seemed to suggest it might keep the rains from reaching us until late in the day. Other reports fudged toward a little earlier in the day. It turned out that we got small amounts of rain throughout the entire morning.

It failed to dampen any of the volunteer spirit gathered for the day as we toiled to haul cinder blocks to anchor the net poles out in the open spaces of what was a former limestone quarry. It still looked like it could be a promising day to find some hidden sparrows.

There were no real surprises to the day's catch but we did manage to get more than enough birds to keep things busy. The only things slowing us down were some interesting terrain changes to walk through and the occasional calf-deep ponds of water hiding beneath the tall grasses.

Then the rain began and sprinkled on us for the remained of the day. A couple of highlights made up for the damp.

Definitely the right time of year for some Savannah Sparrows including this early capture.

Savannah Sparrow

The better birds were still come follow and, though there was a slim chance to see them, we were happily greeted by a couple of Henslow's Sparrows throughout the day.

Henslow's Sparrow

IN the middle of the round-up we also managed a few LeConte's Sparrows. They are more rare but the habitat was good for them being near watery edges and now flooded fields. This bird was actually caught earlier in the day and released but returned to nearly the same spot and was recaptured by me just walking back to the nets.

LeConte' Sparrow

The crowd that was there just to take photos swarmed this bird's first capture so I made this a more private moment without alerting the crowd. Besides, it was getting cold and rainy so we wanted to get it back into the wild as soon as possible.

All in all, a fun day despite the cold and rain and a nice chance to band outside the usual spots we have banded before. Still waiting for a nice calm day in a new spot in the future.


Gallicissa said...

Hey Andrew, Good-looking bird! You have been tagged by me. See:

John said...

Would you describe, or perhaps flag on a Google map, the location of the former quarry where you found the Henslow's and LeConte's sparrows? I would make it a point to visit the spot. Thanks.

J. Andrew Boyle said...

Hey, John.

Well, first off, it was nearly 3 years ago! I can't even feel it being that long ago.

Second, this was part of a banding study in a parcel that is generally not open to the public in the city of Weekie Wachie, FL.

Not sure if I could guide you to another fortunate location as the banding project has concluded and the habitat outside this parcel is not favorable to these birds on a consistent basis.