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Birdwalk Highlights for 10/21: Wolfe's Neck Center, Freeport.

Updated: Oct 22

We usually prefer going to a different place each week, but when the going is good, we'll keep, well, going. And with fog over the water, low tide, and a Lark Sparrow found here yesterday, we just had to go back. And we are sure glad we did!

We began at the cove with a goodly number of 67 LAUGHING GULLS and 8 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, along with 7 GREAT BLUE HERONS, 1 BONAPARTE'S GULL, and 18 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. One COOPER'S HAWK cruising low over the mudflats put them all up. Further out, we had 4 RED-THROATED LOONS, and an AMERICAN PIPIT called as it flew over.

Working the main garden area thoroughly we teased out a tardy COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, which was well seen, and a likely-continuing NASHVILLE WARBLER that was not. A GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET paused down low, with several more calling from the treeline, as was a single RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET. A migrant flock of 14 AMERICAN ROBINS were overhead, and the first of several groups of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were seen (a total of at least 16). A single PALM WARBLER was along the fenceline.

But the sparrows were abundant, and we worked them thoroughly. We also birded around the Smith Center and barn area, where we found even more sparrows. Between the two sparrow-rific hotspots, our conservative guesstimate were 200 SAVANNAH SPARROWS, 75-100 SONG SPARROWS, about 20 SWAMP SPARROWS, 1 adult CHIPPING SPARROWS, and one heard-only WHITE-THROATED SPARROW.

However, as we were finally heading back to the car from behind the barn, I spotted a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW! A nice, bright buffy one at that, too. While not as rare as a Lark Sparrow - of which there was no sign of today - this rare-but-regular "drift vagrant" was a treat, and a new bird for a couple of folks. It sat still long enough for us all to lament that none of us had a camera today.

Unfortunately, rounding the barn to check the non-bird-safe windows that were installed, we found evidence of at least 3 window-strikes, one that was almost certainly a mortality although no carcasses were found. A woefully easy missed opportunity here to save birds and promote bird-safe glass, this new building is likely to cause some significant mortality issues, especially as landscape plantings have recently been installed around it. We'll continue to check this and collect data to be used to urge the organization to retrofit these windows.

On a happier note, our stroll back down the road yielded some more bluebirds, another pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and back at the cove, both a RED-TAILED HAWK and a BALD EAGLE to add to our solid list for the outing.

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