Not dead yet! (Grasshopper Sparrow at M&M Dairy)

Despite all the construction and changing landscape at M&M Dairy, the place isn’t dead yet. After Roger and I tallied just over 50 species there a couple days ago (including a very uncommon/rare Western Kingbird), I headed back over there this morning.

Yellow-rumped Warbler. M&M Dairy. 25 December 2018.

The back part of the “new” area to bird was full of fairly common winter species like the Yellow-rumped Warbler pictured above, and the Ruby-crowned Kinglet pictured below. (Missing was the American Pipit, Painted Buntings, and Western Kingbird).

Ruby-crowned Kinglet. 25 Dec 2018.

I got to the big overgrown dirt mountain, and saw dozens of birds fly up out of the vegetation and up to the top. I figured they were a mix of Palm Warblers and Savannah Sparrows, but decided to check them over anyway. I quickly noticed the bold eyering, burnt orange supraloral area, and median crown stripe of a Grasshopper Sparrow! As I scanned right, I saw a second one about five feet away.

Grasshopper Sparrow. 25 Dec 2018. M&M Dairy.

I fired off a few shots, but due to the distance good photos were difficult…even at 500mm. Grasshopper Sparrows are around every winter but can be extremely difficult to find, and I’d say you would miss them 99 times out of 100 when birding in Duval County. Yes, these are the third and fourth I’ve found this year, but to balance that perspective consider that the four I’ve recorded in 2018 are the only ones reported in the entire county this year.

Grasshopper Sparrow. 25 Dec 2018.

It’s hard to imagine adding two new birds to the overall M&M Dairy “patch list” at this point, but that’s precisely what I’ve done in the past week. “Good birding” indeed!

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