Nelson’s Sparrow still present

I went back this morning looking for the Nelson’s Sparrow at Lk St. Clair Metropark… I woke up, looked outside and saw slightly overcast skies and knew I would get some better photos… As a bird photographer I like prefer overcast skies to sunny skies.. The latter you deal with blown out colors and shadows… just a pain in the arse… but in overcast sky, there are no shadows to deal with and the colors are more accurate… I got to LSCMP and saw Will McHale and a few other photographers around… they told me it was seen a couple times already… So I headed to the exact spot I first found it on Sunday and waited…. Sure enough it made its way back and was feeding on the ground in the Phragmites a few feet from its favorite patch of weeds and tall grass its been hanging in… It was making a soft variable song very different from its regular song and call… It sounded very much like a juvenile song sparrow learning to sing… I found that fascinating and suspect that this is a young bird… Hopefully it will stick around for a few more days so people have time to get out and see it…

Nelson's Sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrow

Nelson's Sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrow

Nelson's Sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrow at the Big Sit

Every year I participate in the Big Sit sponsored by Bird Watcher’s Digest. I am on the Metromunchers team at Lk St. Clair Metrpark managed by Tom Heatley and Barb Baldinger.. It is always a great time as we stay in our circle and identify as many species as we can from within the circle… If we see bird activity outside of the circle, we may leave it to go and confirm the bird. This year started for me at 6am.. I was the first to arrive and shortly there after I was joined by Andy Weinrauch and Joanna Pease… We got Great Horned Owl and Screech Owl early on as well as Marsh Wren and a few other marsh birds… as the day wore on we had Merlins, Bald Eagles, Northern Harrier, warblers including Northern Parula, Nashville, Palm and Yellow-rumps. People slowly arrived and at one point we had about 16 people there all observing birds.. It was great to see Brian Mcgee, the Hince’s, Andrea and her boyfriend Jason, Kevin Rysiewski, Jeff Steinmetz, Wayne Hoch, and many others that came to help us out.. in the afternoon Alan Ryff showed up…  We managed 65 species for the day, 4 short of the record.

So, I am having a conversation with Alan Ryff regarding Andy Weinrauch’s sighting of a Nelson’s Sparrow on Friday… We were giving Andy a hard time (only in jest, we all know Andy and what a credible birder he is, so there was no doubt by anyone on his sighting) about being the only one to see the rare bird.. Alan mentioned to me that its not that the bird is so rare this time of year, but that its so difficult to find and see because of its extreme skulking behavior. Alan is a wealth of knowledge and he is always very interesting to talk too.  A short time later I see a bunch of warblers in a willow near the big sit circle where the grasses are high… To be honest with you I was going to “knock out two birds” with one stone and investigate the birds and use natures restroom…  I head toward the willow, identify a bunch of Palm Warblers and just as I am about to make my way over to the willow tree I see a sparrow flush from the ground and land on a weedy branch right in front of me and sit there and stare at me… One look at it and I almost freaked out.. It was a beautiful Nelson’s Sparrow… I screamed at the to group in the circle. “I got a Nelson’s here”… They thought I was kidding… Then I said, “I got a #%$@##$%%%% Nelson’s here, get your $%^%$$%^% down here now!!!!”… they believed me the second time and all headed my way. The sparrow flushed in front of me and dived down into the phragmites a few feet away where it sat out in the open for a couple of minutes so everyone could observe it and get photos… Andy was so relieved that I found it and that he was not the only one on record and many of us were excited to get a lifer!!  I did not have a camera on me so many thanks to Kevin and Andrea who lent me photos for my blog. Of course many people showed up and got glimpses of this bird after our initial finding… Not an easy bird to see… It would flush, fly a few feet and dive to the ground not to be seen again… so we were fortunate early on to get some great looks… Congrats to all of the birders that got to see it…. Best bird of the year for me and my #231 for the county for 2016…

Living Legends... Alan Ryff and Tom Heatley

Living Legends… Alan Ryff and Tom Heatley

Nelson's Sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrow

Nelson's Sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrow

Nelson's Sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrow

Nelson's Sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrow