Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sparrows at Griggstown

This morning was overcast and chilly - in other words, perfect weather for a winter solstice. Unfortunately it is not perfect for identifying birds. When all colors dissolve into gray, shapes and sounds become vital for bird identification.

Birding can still be productive under such circumstances, as it was this morning at the Griggstown Grasslands Preserve. Large flocks of Canada geese and various ducks flew noisily overhead all day; perhaps they were disturbed by the hunters combing through nearby farm fields. One highlight came during an overflight - two tight vees of common mergansers.

The fields contained the usual sparrows, plus about a dozen American tree sparrows. As I noted in a previous post, I am really amazed at the number of tree sparrows I have seen so far this fall and winter. I have also come to appreciate the tinkling calls and warm coloration of these "sweet little creatures" (as some might call them). It is a relief amidst the stark gray colors taken by their surroundings. More relief came from the small flocks of eastern bluebirds that inhabit the hedgerows at Griggstown.

A few purple finches were present at Griggstown today. The birds in this group were mostly males, purplish with no sign of brown streaking. One female was with them. Usually females of this species are a bit easier for me to identify, but today it seemed to work in reverse.

Oddly enough, there were no harriers present today, at least none that I saw. It was the first time in at least a month that I did not record one there.