Gang of Four

28 11 2008

Unfortunately I had already made plans for the day today so turned down the opportunity to join Nick Bonomo over at Windsor landfill for the morning. I am still trying not to feel too sick after he turned up this amazing Slaty-Backed Gull. A first for Connecticut. Congrats to Nick; a just reward for wading through the gulls (and trash) up in Windsor over the last few years.

Instead of joining him for the day I had a lazy morning lie in bed after a fun but late Thanksgiving Evening before heading out to Stratford for a wander with Tina Green. Nothing majorly exciting most spots but there was a load of sparrow activity down at the Old Gun Club on Stratford Point. I managed to relocate the Clay-colored Sparrow as reported by Frank Mantilk and snapped some rudimentary digiscoped pictures (these perfectly illustrate why there won’t be many of my pictures on the blog). Added to that were a couple of Field Sparrows, three or so Chippings and a couple more American Tree Sparrows.  There was another  lingering Chipping at Short Beach earlier in the day. Not a bad haul getting your four regularly occurring spizella sparrows all in one spot in late Novemeber.

I have to say that sparrows really are my favorite family of birds. For me they are just that little bit challenging at times which makes them an interesting group to identify and I also love the cryptic, subtle and intricate patterns that most of them possess. The Clay-colored is one of the more difficult species to identify, often books refer you to the definitive pale loral area which can be very difficult to see without scope views or very close approaches ( this bird actually bathed in a puddle a few feet from us – while my camera was back in the car!!!!). Other features to look out for with the Clay-colored are the softer warmer brown tones, brown rump (as opposed to gray in Chipping), solid gray nape and dark ‘mustache’ which makes the white malar really jump out at you.

As a side note I’m not sure what the current deal is with the Old Gun Club, this is an outstanding property and I have previously found Red-headed Woodpecker there with Penny Solum and have found it a good place for SEO in previous winters and it holds great sparrow potential. The problem? It never seems to be open to the public. Anyone who has any idea when and if it is open to the public generally I’d love to know.

(edit) Thanks to a note from Charlie Barnard I discovered that the Gun Club will be open to the public in Mid-December this year – great news.

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