Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 Sparrow Drive, Part 1

Before we head out to our next Sparrow round-up I guess I should get the post up about the first one! Every year, we try to assist our friend Marianne Korosy in her sparrow project over a Weeki Wachee Preserve on the Gulf coast. The first one this year was held on January 19th. Maria and I arrived at dawn and helped set nets across the vast grassy areas in what was once a limestone quarry.

Once nets are set and instructions are given to the volunteers (mainly fellow birders, many of which are new to the project and wanting to see specific sparrows for the first time)some of us stand near the nets while the rest of the group moves toward sections of the nets making as much noise as possible hoping to flush any birds hiding in the grass into the nets. Recent volunteers to the Lake Lotus banding site, Greg and Becki, joined us by 'go time'.


Our first bird of the day was a Le Conte's Sparrow. Birds are placed in cloth bags and taken to Marianne as quickly as possible where she processes the data as we continue to work the grasses.

Le Conte's Sparrow

Next up, we began catching Henslow's Sparrows. We caught 4 of them today.

Henslow's Sparrow

A Swamp Sparrow was a dded to the list but birds were few and far between today. Making things worse, the wind started blowing stronger. Nets toppled and we tried to keep them all standing but eventually gave up and concentrated on sections at a time. Soon, we captured a Sedge Wren.

Sedge Wren

One bird veered away from the nets and circled behind the group as they advanced. Clay and I decided to give chase as the day was coming to a close. We flushed the bird a few more times in different directions and we finally steered it into a net where I grabbed it before it escaped again. It was our only Grasshopper Sparrow of the day.

Grasshopper Sparrow

I took the Grasshopper Sparrow over to the group for photos. Greg and Becki added 4 Life Birds to their lists today.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Marianne and Meret Wilson, another fellow bird bander, discuss our final bird of the day, a Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler. Our day was over here at the preserve so we packed up and prepared to head home.

Marianne Korosy and Meret Wilson

There were reports of several rare birds in different areas on our path home. We didn't find the Red-breasted Nuthatches other had heard on the preserve other the past few days. We headed on toward target #2 which happened to be just across the main road in a little botanical garden.

We did search for the Rufus Hummingbird but it was a no-show, too. It was fun to walk around for a bit and find some interesting things. It seemed too early for Camillias to be in bloom but they sure were.


There were a few Sulphur Butterflies visiting the butterfly garden where the hummingbird was suppose to be.

Sulphur Butterfly

A chrysalis hung in a shrub looked about ready to spring forth a new butterfly into the world.


Teough a small garden, it seems to have a large varieties of themes. One of them was a fantasy theme where we found this castle.


Continuing our trek towards home, we stopped by Ranch Road to look for the Say's Phoebe. It did not show itself but we did find Eastern Bluebirds, American Goldfinches, and miniature horse that Maria bore a strong resemblance to a certain rock star. I just call him Jon Bon Poni...


Off to Lust Road where I hear there has n=been an Ash-throated Flycatcher. Not today. We had to settle for some other species such as an Eastern Phoebe...

Eastern Phoebe

...and a Vesper Sparrow which seems to be going bald. We were quickly loosing light and still had another stop to make over at Magnolia Park.

Vesper Sparrow

We have been invited to do a banding demonstration in March so I wanted to get a lay of the land and see if there were any good spots for nets. I headed down one trail and Maria found a Bald Eagle up in the tree tops.

Bald Eagle

Along the trial I was exploring I found a opening Moon Glory responding to the darkening day.

Moon Glory

I think I know where I want to put the nets. Now I just have to get permission. As we head back to the car we glance back towards the lake and snap one last shot.

Lake Magnolia Park

Long day. Missed on every new bird I was after but it was fun to round up the sparrows. We will be back there on February 9th for the final event.

The Great Backyard Bird Count for 2013 is February 15-18th.
Click the icon to learn more!

Great Backyard Bird Count

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