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Birdwalk Highlights for 10/18: Wolfe's Neck Center, Freeport.

October 19, 2019

I generally avoid going to the same place two weeks in a row, but there are exceptions to every rule. And since it's sparrow season, we went right back to the best sparrow patch in the immediate area this week. 

 

In the weedy farm and its margins, we had over 100 sparrows once again, but diversity was a little lower than last week: ~60 SONG SPARROWS and ~40 SAVANNAH SPARROWS were joined by only singleton CHIPPING SPARROW and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW.  Only two YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were detected as they passed overhead, as did three AMERICAN PIPITS that landed way out in the pasture.

 

So we had our sparrow numbers, and side-by-side comparisons of Song and Savannah Sparrows were especially worthwhile, but it was the shoreline and mudflats that stole the show today.  The highlight were exceptionally valuable studies of structural and behavioral differences between 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 3 GREAT YELLOWLEGS that foraged near shore in the creek and mudflats. We began and ended the walk with this group, adding a fourth Greater Yellowlegs around the corner.  14 distant BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS obligingly came in for a great, close look.  

 

Meanwhile, we also had good studies of gulls, with great looks at the 5 expected common species: 46 LAUGHING GULLS was a goodly number for the date, with 14 BONAPARTE'S GULLS flying by.  60+ RING-BILLED GULLS and 40+ HERRING GULLS joined them on the flats, but it wasn't until a fly-over individual GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL finished the sweep. 3 GREAT BLUE HERONS stalked the shallows as well. 

 

Waterfowl were few, limited to scattered COMMON EIDERS, 6 SURF SCOTERS, 4 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, and a mere 4 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS.  But the raptor show made up for it, including perfect looks at two soaring adult RED-TAILED HAWKS low overhead against a crystal clear blue sky, as well as at least one more hovering and kiting off in the distance.  The single fly-by MERLIN and COOPER'S HAWKS were likely migrants, but perhaps the 4 TURKEY VULTURES were just as captivated as we were by the smell of one particular campground's breakfast!  

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