Wednesday, December 05, 2007

sparrow chase

I don't usually write about birding places other than Guadalupe Oak Grove in this blog, but things have been slow there lately. I haven't seen a good bird in the park since the Chestnut sided Warbler on Sept. 21. It was a rare bird for the county, and my best warbler this year.

On Nov. 6, I led a preschool class on a nature walk in Guadalupe Oak Grove Park. While the kids were playing on the playground I went off to look for acorns for them to collect. Amazingly I came across a flock of Chipping Sparrows. I'd seen that species in the area several times, usually in the spring. I came back many times in the next three weeks, and counted as many as thirteen. It didn't attract much attention until another birder found a Clay colored Sparrow with the flock. Ann Verdi and I looked for it the next day, and both got a good look at this sparrow perched in a tree right in front of us.

On Dec. 3, I birded at Jeffrey Fontana Park where the sparrows had been seen. I heard a Fox Sparrow which I reported a week ago. Then I lucked out and found the Clay colored Sp. in the grass and nearby Chipping Sparrows. Just inside Guadalupe Oak Grove Park I found the White throated Sparrow, an uncommon winter visitor, which I first spotted a month ago. Already I had three uncommon sparrows! I continued the chase on the Guadalupe River Trail where I picked up White and Golden crowned Sparrows, Lincolns, House and Song Sparrow. It was only 9:30, so I drove out to Fortini Rd. I hadn't seen a Lark Sparrow for months, but persistence produced a Lark Sparrow. I knew I could find a Rufous crowned Sparrow at the Stile Ranch trailhead. I played its call on my PDA, and three RCSP popped up in the chaparral. I had only one more possible sparrow to find, so I stopped at the Calero Reservoir boat ramp and found a Savannah Sparrow, my twelveth sparrow species!!!

(White-throated Sparrow photo by Alan Walther)