That's right, free, public birdwalks are back! Things are a little different now though, as pre-registration is required, we meet in a pre-determined location in our own vehicles, and we are strictly limiting group size. And yes, masks, the whole time. No exceptions. (See the previous post for future birdwalks and registration information).
So today we began the new birdwalk series with a stroll along Pennellville Road in Brunswick. The late haying here and small herd of cattle provide ample opportunities for BOBOLINKS and SAVANNAH SPARROWS to breed successfully. In fact, it's a perfect example of how these grassland birds can co-exist with agriculture. And a sign of that success were the number of both species we saw today. There were scattered female Bobolinks plopping in throughout the fields with beak full of food for nestlings, some still-dapper males displaying, and a big post-breeding flock of at least 80 together! At least 15 Savannah Sparrows included a number of singing males and some individuals exhibiting "agitated" behavior consistent with active nests.
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS (20+) were also actively feeding nests and maintaining territories in the fields, while about 10 TREE SWALLOWS zipping over sheep included 2 BARN SWALLOWS and 2 BANK SWALLOWS. Commuting HERRING GULLS (20+) and an OSPREY passed overhead, and a pair of NORTHERN FLICKERS were pair-bonding in a large tree. 9+ SONG SPARROWS, a couple of singing COMMON YELLOWTHROATS and YELLOW WARBLERS, and several GRAY CATBIRDS rounded out the list.
We caravaned to nearby Simpson's Point, but parked near the end of Pennell Way due to the crowd of swimmers and kayakers. That second walk yielded another 30+ Bobolinks in another unmowed field, 2 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, and much better views of Barn Swallows.
At the point, a handful of COMMON TERNS joined a large number of roosting Herring Gulls. On the water, we had scattered family groups of COMMON EIDERS, two GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS, and 30+ DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. A GREAT BLUE HERON stood watch over the oyster farm, while OSPREYS (3+) and BALD EAGLES (2) competed over airspace.
We were also excited to see one MONARCH butterfly - they are frighteningly few and far between this summer, and the beautiful moth we looked at whose name I couldn't remember was a VIRGINIA CTENUCHA.