Saturday, August 04, 2007

Griggstown Grasslands

This morning I went with my mother and sister to the Griggstown Grasslands, a spot that I have visited once before. The site is mostly managed pasture with hedgerows and woodland dividing the fields. Like the last time, the fields were full of grasshopper sparrows, but instead of singing adults hiding in the meadow, we saw young hatch year birds perched out in the open. Several were moving around right at the parking lot. These confused me at first since they were noticeably paler than the adults and had light streaks on their breasts. (A process of elimination settled the issue.)

Several other bird species were active around the parking lot as well. Most exciting were some bobolinks - life birds for my sister, and unusual for me. Song sparrows, tree swallows, indigo buntings, and orchard orioles took turns perching on the common mullein stems. (Common mullein turns out to be a useful plant for birders.) We failed to turn up many more bird species in the rest of the fields, though we could hear field sparrows at various locations.

As one would expect, most of the individuals were hatch-year birds or in non-breeding plumage. The exceptions to that were the American goldfinches, which are now in the peak of their breeding season. They typically wait to nest until late in the summer when flowers start to go to seed.


Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Bluebird
Tufted Titmouse
Blue Jay
European Starling
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Common Yellowthroat
Field Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Orchard Oriole