[va-bird] Eastern Shore sparrows, etc.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and Eastern Shore - Saturday, November 15, 2003

I played hooky from hawk watch and headed over to Eastern Shore to scout 
around for upcoming field trip with Augusta and Monticello Bird Clubs next 
weekend.

Late morning - On Isl. 3 of CBBT, male Harlequin Duck was observed in 
company of Surf Scoters, at least four Common Eider and a single King Eider 
(either adult female or juvenile).  I was checking out a small group of 
scoters on NE corner of Isl.3 when King Eider flew in close to rocks.  Went 
to photograph when a small boat veered toward the rocks and birds 
flew.  The yahoos in this boat were observed several times veering toward 
small flocks of birds floating on the water, at times coming in very close 
to the rocks, so close that I wish I had had a one pound sinker on hand.  A 
juvenile Great Black-backed Gull was in the roadway and I noted a very 
large 4"+ silver shiner w/steel leader hooked into right wing.  Also 
noteworthy on Isl.3 was a single Snow Bunting.

First stop at Eastern Shore NWR around 12 p.m. I came across a non-Hermit 
Thrush next to the visitor's center along path leading from sidewalk to 
back butterfly garden.  Great close up and I could easily see it did not 
have a rust/reddish tail and it had gray cheeks.  It flew up into the trees 
next to the right rear of the visitor's center but by time I got back with 
camera, I was unable to relocate.

A sparrow flew up to wood rail along SW corner behind visitor's center that 
was a good contender for Clay-colored.  I attempted to photograph and 
managed to get a blurred image.  At 12:35 p.m. on Fitchett Road I lucked 
onto a Lark Sparrow that flew across the road in front of the van.  This 
was just a short distance up from the photography blind parking 
area.  There is a small paved pull off area on right shoulder just before 
road to left leading to administrative office.  The sparrow landed atop 
scrub affording decent views.  Grabbed camera that was in seat next to me 
but before I could focus the sparrow dropped down and I was unable to 
relocate.  (Special note:  Several hours later (around 4 p.m.) I was 
driving back down this road hoping to hopefully catch up with Jennifer 
Ottinger and Bob Anderson and the Lark Sparrow was in the road right along 
the same spot next to the paved pull off.)

Brief visit to Kiptopeake yielded Purple Finch at feeders along with 
American Goldfinch.

Back at Eastern Shore NWR late afternoon I ran into Mike Iwanik and friends 
from Richmond who had found Clay-Colored and Harris Sparrow earlier in the 
day along the Butterfly Trail on section closer in to the visitor's 
center.  I headed back over and not too far down the trail I spotted three 
sparrows - 2 Song and a Clay-colored feeding along the edge.  Further up 
the trail Bob Anderson was checking out the sparrows as well but had missed 
the Clay-colored.  Short time later sparrows were moving in and out of the 
heavy underbrush and I saw what I felt certain was an adult Harris 
Sparrow.  It stayed hidden. Short distance back Bob and Jennifer Ottinger, 
et al, had an immature Harris Sparrow in among another group of mostly Song 
and few White-throats.

Heading back to visitor's center, at the "first spot" there were now 30+ 
sparrows along the edge, actively feeding, including the adult Harris 
Sparrow, with the prominent black extending on the face and down the neck 
and upper breast.  In fact, I was somewhat surprised at the amount of black 
on this bird.  But then again, this was my first adult Harris.   It was 
nice to be able to compare this to the juvenile I had seen only a few 
minutes earlier.  It was now well after 4 p.m., more like 4:30 and time to 
get back on the highway for the 2.5 hour drive back.

Although I wasn't successful in getting any decent photos of the sparrows, 
below is link to web page with few pics of birds on Isl. 3.

http://home.ntelos.net/~btkin/Birds_of_the_Commonwealth/Gallery_pages/Seabirds,%20etc.htm

Brenda Tekin
Charlottesville, VA

Highlights:
Common Eider
King Eider
Harlequin Duck
Snow Bunting
Clay-colored Sparrow
Harris Sparrow (1 juvenile; 1 adult)
Lark Sparrow
Great Cormorant
?? Thrush - Not a Hermit or Wood
Palm Warbler



P.S.   While out on Island #2 this morning, I observed a fellow birder who 
had stepped over the metal guardrail.  PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE adhere to the 
rules and regulations while out on the islands and DO NOT cross over the 
metal guardrail on Islands 2, 3, and 4!  

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