On Saturday and Sunday, I led field trips for the Cayuga Bird Club at the Cornell Garden Plots (known also as the Cornell Community Gardens) along Freese Road. On both days, the viewing met my high expectations, with everyone getting good looks at LINCOLN’S, SWAMP, WHITE-CROWNED, and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS. There were dozens of SONG SPARROWS too of course, providing helpful visual and aural points of reference against which to pick out the less-common birds.
The White-crowned Sparrows seem unusually abundant and easy to find this year, with many sightings on each day, including a few of multiple individuals in a single field of view. Conversely, SAVANNAH SPARROWS continue to seem relatively scarce at the site this year. We barely managed to see one on each day. I also didn’t find any FIELD SPARROWS at all in the gardens this weekend, though Ken Haas saw one on Saturday. The most surprising and distinctive sparrow of the weekend was a female EASTERN TOWHEE on Saturday, which perched up for us for about 20 seconds on the fence of the Dyce Lab corral. Sunday offered up its own special touches, including a PALM WARBLER on the same spot on that fence, plus many fine birds across the road on the Liddell Lab side – an EASTERN MEADOWLARK resting in the grass, a BLUE-HEADED VIREO in a small tree near the building, four WILD TURKEYS, a female NORTHERN HARRIER, and the first OSPREY I’ve seen in weeks. Ken Kemphues and Leigh Stivers also found a MARSH WREN in the cattails around the pond. On both days I ended the walks by offering a visit to the grassy field west of Bluegrass Lane, north of the Equine Research Park, to try our luck finding Nelson’s Sparrow in the hidden cattail patches. Regrettably, a giant bolt of lightning curtailed our effort just as it was beginning on Saturday. Fortunately, we all escaped incineration and even inundation, as the torrents held off until we were already back in our cars. On Sunday, we did manage to get out to the field, though fog and wind hampered our viewing. We didn’t find any birds of special note in the grass, nor in the goldenrod and cattails. But as we walked back along the gravel road, we got two last highlights for the weekend. The first was a Lincoln’s Sparrow on a desiccated corn husk, offering close, wide-open (albeit fog-shrouded) views for probably two full minutes. Then we had the weekend’s best views of Savannah Sparrow browsing the puddles and gravel at the grass edge. I got a lot of help on both days from the sharp eyes and insight of many other club members, especially Ken, Leigh, Bob McGuire and Phil McNeil, as well as sparrow scientist Zena Casteel. My thanks to them, and to all who came out for the walks! Mark Chao -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --