Friday Fall Birding

I wake up in the darkness on Friday morning to meet up with my birding partner, Susan, and find some fall birds. We head off to Southlands, a boarding a training space for horses. It is open to the public to walk the trails- and the trails carry us past Savannah Sparrows, Phoebes, and American Kestrel, and a Gray Ghost male harrier. Still, for a morning during fall migration, it is quiet.

Of course, Susan and I are going to bird until life obligations pull us away from the field. So we head south to Hopeland Sanctuary, the place where the famed Dutchess County Yellow-breasted Chats delighted dozens of birders earlier in June. Today, the green field of early summer has given way to purple asters, yellow goldenrod, and fuschia leaves. It truly feels like fall. 

After a short while, Susan and I arrive at the head of a field with a bench. We clamber onto it, and can practically see into the shrubs and weeds-that are bursting with birds. To our delight, the first White-throated Sparrows sit up for us in a bare tree. Chickadees fearlessly eat berries from the juniper right above us. They are soon joined by a flock of juvenile Cedar Waxwings. It is hard to decide where to look next, until Susan grabs my attention with her sighting of an unusual sparrow. Unbelievably, it hops out onto a bare branch and we can see it unobstructed: it is a beautiful smoky gray, but with a soft orange chest. A Lincoln's Sparrow! I have never gotten such a good view of this uncommon bird. 

A beautiful Lincoln's Sparrow

A plethora of warblers rounds out the rest of the day, many dressed in fall plumage that makes them so difficult to identify. I am actually still working on it! 

An excellent day!

Friday, September 25, 2015