Sunday, November 11, 2007


This afternoon my mother and sister and I visited the Griggstown Grasslands Preserve in Franklin Township. As with a previous trip, the fields were full of savannah sparrows. The area immediately around the parking lot continues to be a hotspot for this cryptic species. I have noticed that savannah sparrows will flush as I approach, but if I stand still in a place and pish a little, they will pop up and sit at the top of a mullein stalk or other tall plant. Unlike song sparrows, which react similarly, savannah sparrows tend to sit still without much nervous twitching.

Aside from savannah sparrows, the preserve today was notable for the hawks patrolling the fields. A harrier wheeled continuously over the fields. A young sharp-shinned hawk and an adult Cooper's hawk made passes at the flocks of savannah sparrows in the parking lot area. Several red-tailed hawks circled in a kettle for a short time before moving on. My sister was the lone spotter of a juvenile bald eagle. The most interesting to watch were the resident kestrels. These birds could be observed at fairly close range as they used trail sign posts and mullein stalks as hunting perches.

A surprising number of grasshoppers were jumping along the paths. We have had several frosts already, including one last night that froze the water in the bird baths. I wonder how much longer the grasshoppers can stay active.

There were also two red foxes present.


Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Tufted Titmouse
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Common Grackle