Field and Fox at Farm
Winter finches are impossible down here. They haven’t really begun coming to feeders, and likely won’t until the abundant natural food supply begins to deplete, so finding any of them is a matter of total and utter luck. And if you have learned anything about me from this weblog, gentle reader, it’s that I am likely the least lucky birder there ever was. So even though Evening Grosbeak and Common Redpoll have both turned up in my home county this season, none of them have turned up for me. But I have this feeling that the place to find Evening Grosbeak this winter will be in the fruiting Tulip Poplars that grow in a grove at Mason Farm, my local patch. So I keep returning there, hoping against hope, that the big finches will fly in and begin to feast on the poplar seeds mere feet above my head. Needless to say, I’ve been there several times in the last couple week, and while the birding has been pretty great, there have been no signs of Evebeaks to be had.
What I have seen, however, are loads of sparrows skulking in the fields. All of the common species have been abundant, those being Song, Swamp, Field, Chipping, White-throated, Fox, Dark-eyed Junco, and Towhee. I had a White-crowned Sparrow there a couple weeks ago that looked for all the world like a “Gambel’s” bird, with the pale lore and orangish bill, but it vamoosed into the weeds and I never found it again. I’ve been holding out hope for a Lincoln’s or a Clay-colored, and while I had a Linc earlier this fall in Wake County, none have appeared closer to home, and it’s getting a tad late for both besides. Oh well.
When you patrol the fields and brush for sparrow at Mason, you get lots of photo ops though, and this last week the overcast skies finally parted and allowed beautiful light to shine through. Which I’m generally pretty ambivalent too except that it made the sparrows gorgeous.
I don’t think I ever need to get any more photos of Field Sparrows. I can cross them off the list. This bird came in to pishing and wouldn’t leave. Fine with me.
I’d been working really hard to get a decent shot at a Fox Sparrow this fall. It seems as though they’re all over Mason Farm these days. It’s usually a pretty reliable place to find them if you’re willing to work at it, but the past couple weeks have seen many multiple birds singing their heads off making it a cinch to see one. But photographing one has been a different matter, as they prefer to stay mostly hidden. This one popped right out for a brief moment though.
Not the best, and a little heavily cropped to get a ton of resolution, but by far the finest photo of this – maybe my favorite – sparrow I’ve ever taken.
At at least, far better than any winter finch photo I’ll probably get this year.