Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hunting for Sparrows

I needed a Sparrow fix. Time to head out to the Marl Bed Flats at Lake Jesup. I hadn't been out there is a long time and there were some reports of some good activity out there in the past couple weeks. Plus, I probably wouldn't have much more time to bird in the coming week.

I was going to get back to the banding station today but the forecast was for mid-30s and frost. That was not too far off and as I got to the Marl Bed area I could see that most of the ground was covered with white. I could hear gunfire out in the distance which was weird for out here.


I tried to decide which trail to take. Sparrows would be just about anywhere. I figured I could head toward the sunrise and circle back. However, the weeds were too high on the eastern trail.

I doubled back and decided to go down the center trail. There were many birds half-way through but not many in the open. Catbirds, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Myrtle Warblers and American Robins were flying all around the trees. When I came to the opening of the flats I found this...


Hmmmm... Seems that either this fellow is just out and about illegally or they have opened hunting up in this pasture. Which ever, this guy was just shooting all over the place. I could see sparrows and Meadowlarks flying about but nothing that would make a meal. At one point I saw him pocket some small kill barely big enough for a snack.

I stood at the opening of the flats concealed in shadow and watched. I hoped that the guy would head the other way. I could see his boat beached in the distance. Instead, he continued to fire randomly. I know this photo looks a bit dangerous but I was shooting from a safe and distant spot.


So, back to the parking area and down the horse trail to the west side of the flats. Hopefully Elmer Fudd will stay on the far side. Once I arrived on the west end I was greeted by dozens of Palm Warblers and a Swamp Sparrow. By the time I got to a good viewing spot of the whole pasture I could see that the hunter was moving in the opposite direction.

Circling around to get deeper in the grassy areas, I tried to position myself near some Eastern Meadowlarks. They weren't letting me get too close. Probably still a bit jumpy from all the shotgun blasts.

Eastern Meadowlark

The other thing I could see were lots and lots of Savannah Sparrows.

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrows were perching up on the grass in every direction out here. Every now and then they would fly up in a wave and find another spot for a lookout.

Savannah Sparrow

I thought I heard another sparrow species but it never showed itself as I made my way over the moist ground. Definitely a lot wetter out here since the last time I visited.

Savannah Sparrow

Only one other bird allowed a brief glimpse as I walked. A Sedge Wren.

Sedge Wren

Nothing else but Savannah Sparrows.

Savannah Sparrow

Oh, well. They are pretty enough in their own right.

Savannah Sparrow

I took a few more shots and decided that this morning was over. An Eastern Phoebe and American Kestrel made quick appearances but nothing else of note was out here this morning. With such a disappointing experience I am not sure when I might come back. Shame.

No comments: