Friday, October 26, 2012

If its Thursday, I Must be Birding #5

Well, it would be great if it were as easy as: "Its Thursday. Lets bird!" But life and responsibilities have a way of getting in the way of things we would rather do. 

So I had planned to take care of the fallen leaves on Tuesday morning, but my mower had other plans. It died. Couldn't restart it, and coupled with the cracked housing decided it was time for a new one. 

Did a bit of research, picked a candidate, and on the way home Wednesday stopped at the store to pick it up. They had already put the mowers away, and put out the snow blowers. I said to the clerk: "You're kidding me! there's no snow, and there is plenty of leaves on the ground still." We checked the shelves where they had been stashed, but the model I wanted was nowhere to be found. 

He checked the store computer, which said it was not in stock, so I checked their website that said it was. At that point we were joined by a manager, who took over. She was very pleasant and apologetic, and offered to order the non in-stock item, and give me a 10% discount to boot. I thanked her, and said that I already had a 10% coupon I was planning on using for the purchase - so she made it 20% and that I could keep the coupon for something else. Nice!

But the leaves don't pick themselves up... So the next day I got up early to use the leaf blower that takes a lot longer, and the leaves are left on the ground. Eventually, I herded the huge mound into the backyard by my compost pile, and set upon my other overdue tasks.

The phone rings, its Bob Haze gloating about his standing in front of a Barnacle Goose in Prospect Park. Groan. I thank him, but with miles to go, cannot join him for a desired bird.  

Back to work, I remove the gunked up fertilizer in my drop-spreader, and finally apply my feed, put down seed, and set up a sprinkler. Phew. Time for lunch. The phone rings again. this time it is Earic Miller setting out for Kissena Park with Bobby Veltree. Groan. I still have a task or two to complete, and it will take some time to get from home to Queens. 

Finally done, I decide to stop in at Alley Pond Park for the Vesper Sparrow reported by Steve Walnut. It was on the way, and probably as likely a find as the one reported by Dr. Pinky in Kissena. Touching base with Earic, it had not been located, so I firmed my plan.

Of course I was overly optimistic, hoping to be able to score the VESP and then head off to Brooklyn. {traffic, what traffic??} Arriving at the intersection Steve described, I exited my car to walk in the park as I observed a jogger running up the road in my direction.

He proceeded to jog past me, up the same path I was headed to, and then went out into 'the field' stopping pretty much where Steve said he had had the bird, and commenced doing jumping jacks! 

Bluebird on post to right
Man doing jumping jacks on a Vesper Sparrow to left

{expletives removed to protect your sensibilities} What are the chances? Really! So I began to walk about, looking for this and any other birds about. On the back-stop, Bluebirds alighted and one by one found pretty much the same mix of birds as Steve had the day before. 

Coming upon a large Junco flock, I scanned them for anything non Junco, and only found some Chipping Sparrows. In the hedge rows were numerous White-throated Sparrows, with one Swamp Sparrow mixed in.

Having circles the field a few times, I was vesperless. And then I noticed Steve Walnut had shown up again to see if he could himself relocate the bird. He was gratified to see that the post was of value; not sure if folks wanted to know about Vesper sightings. 

We walked the fields again, hoping that we would kick it up. At one point, we had a good candidate that had been sulking in the short grass. we followed it to the large oak it had sought refuge in, and locating a Savannah Sparrow, Steve commented that trees were not the likely place to find this, or Vespers for that matter.

We found a Swainson's Thrush, and not much else so we returned to the original area of the sighting, the jumping-jacks dude having called it a day. Looking up in the tree, Steve calls out: "there it is!"  and I said: " I thought you said Vespers don't like trees" Go figure.

Good looks at the bird were obtained, and then it resumed feeding in the spot in the field where Steve had found it the day before, now that it was unoccupied.

Steve wasn't sure if people would be interested in this species being reported. For my part I can say that they occur every year but in such low numbers that they are more desired; at least by me.

Birds that you have to work harder for are more desirable, no? Its not like you see a flock of 50 or so like with White-throats or Juncos.

I like Vespers so much that I finally tracked one down this past May where they are known to breed on long island.  Having been there numerous times in the past but dipping, a report had me try again, since it gave landmarks. Yes, same place I had always tried.

Parked the car, and walked up the road, then down the road. Back and forth a few times, but if they were there, they sure were hiding well. The other birds were obvious and about, but Vespers?  Finally I headed back to the car. And wouldn't you know it, there, on the fence, adjacent to the car, was a Vesper. Doh!


1. A bell that summons worshipers to evening prayer.
2. The evening star, especially Venus.
3. Archaic Evening.
4. a most desired sparrow

No comments: