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My Eye is on the Sparrows

October 15, 2007

Saturday morning I went to go look for sparrows at Butner Gamelands north of Durham with some intrepid folks from the Chapel Hill Bird Club. Butner is a great place to go if there aren’t loads of hunters around shooting everything in sight. There weren’t, so it was. It’s an especially good place for duck hunters, but as there is no water anywhere in the entire state of North Carolina (that may be an exaggeration, but only just) there are very few places for ducks to go and no place for people who wish to hunt them. It’s still good for sparrows though, and now that it’s getting colder the winter sparrows should be arriving, we intended to meet them. I did not intend, however, for my shadow in the picture to the left to look in any way inappropriate, and by inappropriate I mean looking as if I’m shaped like Grimace.

So did we see sparrows? The answer is of course, yes. There were many many singing White-throats, Songs in real numbers, lots of Fields, and a few sharp-looking Swamps. Nothing more unusual but it’s still early and the sparrow numbers will only increase from here on out. Other fall birds are starting to arrive though and we spotted my first of the season Sharp-shinned Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Blue-headed Vireo. Most surprising were three separate first year Black-throated Green Warblers. I had completely written this species off this year as I missed them in the spring and hadn’t yet had one for the fall. The first one was a great surprise, the two additional birds were almost overkill, though the last in particular showed really well.

My personal best bird of the day was a Merlin flyby. It wasn’t such a great look but the bird flew over, banked and came back, made a couple passes at a large flying insect and was gone. So it was kind of a typical Merlin sighting in that it barely slowed down long enough to make the ID. But in my mind any falcon except for Kestrel is worthy of bird of the day. Both the Merlin and the BT Green were new birds for the year for me, I may hit 300 for the year yet.

  1. Patrick Belardo permalink
    October 15, 2007 12:08 pm

    What’s the beef against Kestrels? Maybe not a bird of the day I guess, but a stunning bird on any day. That Grimace comment killed me.

  2. October 15, 2007 12:27 pm

    No beef against Kestrels. I love Kestrels. My best friend is a Kestrel *. But I see hundreds of Kestrels a year, Other falcons are far less common, thus bird of the day.

    *may not be true

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