Sparrows at Branan

This morning I decided to head to the western side of Duval County in search of Bachman’s Sparrows. I headed to Branan Field mitigation area, which is my second visit of the year; Dave and I went on a frigid January morning in search of Hairy Woodpeckers (and missed).

This morning it was around 50F when I got there and quickly realized it had been burned (prescribed burn) since my last visit. The place looks great and all the understory is nice and charred. The “eastern” or “yellow” Palm Warblers were in abundance – this is a sub-species that is very loyal to pine forest; most of the Palms we see in our city parks are “western” and much more drab.

The Bachman’s Sparrows were singing throughout the section of the preserve I walked, and since there was no morning fog I finally managed a few decent images.

Bachman’s Sparrow. 4 Mar 2018.

As I neared the side of the property where the landing strip is, I flushed another drab sparrow. A quick sweep of the bins made me think “Grasshopper” and I quickly fired off a few shots.

Grasshopper Sparrow. 4 Mar 2018

This is the 16th Grasshopper Sparrow I’ve ever seen in Duval County, but it’s the second one I’ve found in back-to-back weekends here – in opposite sides of the county. An interesting note about this species – every one I can remember seeing is due to flushing one inadvertently and letting it perch. They seem to think they’re camouflaged, because once they light they tend to just sit there…often in the hunched posture you see. Now, this image isn’t that good but it’s taken with a 500mm lens and I’ve also cropped it. Why? Because I’m not one to encroach on a bird or blast tapes in an attempt to get a better shot.

I’ll make another couple trips to Branan Field this year. I didn’t hear any Bobwhite today, and in April or May it’s a better time for that plus species like Chuck-will’s-widow, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak, Great-crested Flycatcher, and Eastern Kingbird.

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