Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dickcissel at Negri-Nepote

Yesterday morning I went over to Negri-Nepote Grasslands Preserve to look for a Dickcissel that had been reported there the weekend before, and then reported sporadically through the week. On the way out, I heard and then saw Grasshopper Sparrows pretty quickly. My route went through at least three distinct breeding territories. Chipping Sparrows, Field Sparrows, and a House Wren were also singing along the way. I had some nice looks at Field Sparrows close to the path. The pond had the usual summer grouping of swallows, an Eastern Kingbird, and a Killdeer. I think I also saw a Cedar Waxwing flying over the pond as well.

The Dickcissel had been reported in the area between the pond and the house in the middle of the preserve, so I waited along the main path there to see if it would appear. While I waited, I got to listen to Grasshopper Sparrows, Field Sparrows, and Indigo Buntings singing around me. A pair of Orchard Orioles flew pastin tandem. Tree Swallows darted back and forth, while one Tree Swallow seemed content to sit on top of a nestbox. After a while I decided to try my luck from a different position, so I followed the trail between the house and the pond. I searched around a bit more without spotting it, so I asked another birder named Doug if he had seen it. Sure enough, he had, and he pointed it out to me – both the perch where it was sitting and its song. Once he did point it out, the song suddenly sounded a lot more noticeable to me – I must have missed it among the ambient bird sounds that I had been hearing to that point. Doug was nice enough to let me look at it through his scope for a closer view. A spotting scope definitely helps for this bird since the viewing distance can be quite long for such a small bird.

The viewing distance was too far for me to attempt photographing the Dickcissel. (Here is a photo of one of the Negri-Nepote birds from another birder.) However, I did photograph some butterflies while I was there. Above is a Cabbage White, one of the most common butterflies in the area. This individual is a bit more yellow than most. The one below is an Eastern Tailed-blue, puddling on some mud.