Sunday, October 30, 2011

Grasshopper Sparrow

My wife had an audition for a show yesterday, so I had most of the day to myself; great day to go birding at the coast!
I decided to go to Fort Stevens' South Jetty as there had been regular reports of Lapland Longspurs seen there this past week. I dipped on the Longspurs, but I did see my first Grasshopper Sparrow. Turns out it may be the first reported sighting of this species in Clatsop County.
The reports indicated that sightings were consistently in the grassy area north of the parking lot. I had never gone walking through that area as I wasn't sure if it was open to the public. Turns out there are several crisscrossing trails, so it must be alright.
The area is sprinkled with groves of small pines and as I rounded one, a small sparrow-like bird flushed from the beach grass and landed some distance away in one of the pines. The branch it lit on was exposed leaving it easily seen, so I set off towards it hoping to get a closer look. Luckily it stayed put and I was able to get close enough to take some reasonable shots before it took off.

Initially I thought I had seen a Longspur as I could tell that it was a species I had never seen. However, when I got the pictures onto my computer later that evening I realized it wasn't a Longspur after all, but what was it? No bird jumped off from the pages of my field guides that looked just like it. The closest match I found was a Le Conte's Sparrow. Had it been one, it would have been quite out of range. As it turned out, members of OBOL let me know that it is a Grasshopper Sparrow; a close relative. It makes sense now, however the back still seems to me to be more intricately colored than the pictures I've seen.
Hopefully it won't be the last one I ever see as it is a gorgeous sparrow.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's so exciting to find not only a new bird for yourself, but also one for the county. And so courteous of him to stay and pose for you!