28 October 2020

Posts Tagged ‘vesper sparrow’

Fun Day

Thursday, September 10th, 2020
Rock Wren, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 10 September 2020.
Rock Wren.
Broad-tailed Hummingbird, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 10 September 2020.
Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

Chilly, breezy morning. Sweatshirt weather again. But within a few minutes of beginning my hike with dog, I could tell it was gonna be a big day.

Bird after bird after bird. Species after species. A pair of Western Tanagers, an Olive-sided Warbler with a yellow jacket in its beak, two sparrow species, two warblers, three hummingbirds. I took nearly 900 photos. (Took a while to winnow them down to a couple hundred or so.)

And for the first time I heard the sweet calls of the wren—whose photo was the best of the bunch, I decided.

From four species Tuesday to 22 this morning. A fun day for sure.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 8:17 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay**
2. Mourning Dove*
3. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
4. Spotted Towhee
5. House Finch**
6. Black-chinned Hummingbird
7. Black-capped Chickadee
8. Rock Wren
9. Western Tanager
10. American Robin
11. Olive-sided Flycatcher
12. Rufous Hummingbird
13. Lesser Goldfinch* (v)
14. Northern Flicker (v)
15. Vesper Sparrow
16. Townsend’s Warbler†
17. Brewer’s Sparrow
18. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
19. Virginia’s Warbler
20. Downy Woodpecker
21. Pine Siskin
22. Black-billed Magpie*


23. Red-breasted Nuthatch (v)
24. California Quail
25. Eurasian Collared Dove


Mountain Cottontail

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere


Thursday, August 27th, 2020
Vesper Sparrow, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 27 August 2020.
Vesper Sparrow.

On this slightly cloudy, breezy morning’s hike with my dog Jack, we encountered a little falcon called American Kestrel. I encountered the usual birds we encounter on these beloved hikes of ours. And near the end of our hike, I spied a lovely brown bird called Vesper Sparrow.

Most folks seem enthralled with bright-colored, fancy birds—like the ostentatious males of many species. I’ve come to love the subtler visual beauty of the less flashy birds. When I got a look at this Vesper Sparrow through my camera, I whispered aloud, “So beautiful.”

Great Basin Gopher Snake, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 27 August 2020.
Great Basin Gopher Snake.

This morning we also encountered my first snake in my year-plus in Utah: a Great Basin Gopher Snake. It was kinda beautiful, too.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 7:56 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.

1. House Finch*
2. Mourning Dove*
3. Spotted Towhee
4. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay**
5. American Kestrel
6. Rock Pigeon*
7. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
8. Black-billed Magpie*
9. Lesser Goldfinch*
10. Black-chinned Hummingbird
11. Broad-tailed Hummingbird*
12. Black-capped Chickadee**
13. Red-breasted Nuthatch
14. Western Tanager
15. Vesper Sparrow


16. Eurasian Collared Dove
17. California Quail
18. House Sparrow (v)


Great Basin Gopher Snake

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere

Here’s what happened

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Scarlet tanager, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 18 May 2013.

Scarlet tanager.

OK, so here’s what happened. I rose early, as usual at this time of year, but since Jack and I have Boone here this weekend, and I didn’t feel like birding with two dogs, I left them home and came out to Beech Hill by myself. The angling sun shone brilliantly on the landscape—until right as I got out of my pickup in the Rockville Street parking lot. Clouds had moved over about half the sky. The half with the sun in it.

Veery, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 18 May 2013.


I spent a while cursing the clouds for the dim light they left me with, bird photos being (apparently) the main idea of my spring hikes up there. I managed a couple dim shots—catbird, chestnut-sided warbler—but that was about it. All the way up to the fields, where I stopped to stalk a singing yellow warbler. And as I stood still on the trail, I caught sight of something hopping along in my peripheral vision and turned slowly to see a veery coming up behind me. And I got the best portrait to date of that typically very shy species. Sweet.

Feeling a little better, I crept alongside the fields as a mallard flew over, then four cormorants. I spotted an unusual sparrow that chattered a little before flitting away—a vesper sparrow, I’m pretty sure. And I got some good looks at chasing, mating, nesting yellow warblers.

Then coming up the little wooded stretch below the summit, the sky cleared again finally—and I heard it: the four- and five-note raspy call of a tanager.

Coincidentally, just yesterday I’d been teased by a friend who asked how come I hadn’t yet photographed a scarlet tanager this year. I had to get a picture of that bird. So I crashed off trail, over last falls leaves and between this springs fresh green foliage. I followed the tanager’s voice. From past experience, I knew it would be perched high in the canopy and hidden by the new-leafed trees and not moving around much. It’s rather amazing, really, that such a vivid red bird can stay so hidden. But after two or three minutes, I spotted it. Angled around below here and there working to get a good view. Finally got a photo or two—and even a short video. Sweet.

Eastern kingbird, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 18 May 2013.

Eastern kingbird.

Continued on over the hill and down the open side in the bright morning sun. Plenty of birds about, a couple other OK photos. Then coming back up, I noticed a couple of big flycatcher-looking birds perched on weed tips. Right away I knew they were kingbirds—four or five of them, scattered about the slope. One fluttered over to a trailside post and just sat there as I walked slowly toward it. I got maybe fifteen or twenty feet away before it flew. Meaning I got a lot of photos. First-of-year tanager, first-of-year kingbird.

And on the way home I saw a Cooper’s hawk perched on a telephone line. Sweet.

Returned with the dogs in afternoon and hiked the open slope. Added a merlin to the list—it zipped by low and fast as I talked to a friend I’d met on the trail. And that’s pretty much what happened.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 6:30 a.m., I hiked all trails; beginning at 2:45, I hiked the open trail.

1. Ovenbird**
2. Common yellowthroat**
3. Tufted titmouse
4. Black-throated green warbler** (v)
5. Black-and-white warbler**
6. Chestnut-sided warbler
7. Red-eyed vireo
8. Eastern phoebe
9. Northern parula**
10. American goldfinch (v)
11. Northern cardinal** (v)
12. Veery
13. Gray catbird**
14. Black-capped chickadee
15. American redstart**
16. Yellow-rumped warbler
17. Common raven
18. American crow*
19. Herring gull*
20. Great crested flycatcher (v)
21. Mourning dove*
22. White-throated sparrow
23. Nashville warbler
24. Yellow warbler**
25. Field sparrow
26. Tree swallow (v)
27. Mallard
28. Double-crested cormorant
29. Song sparrow**
30. Vesper sparrow
31. Hermit thrush (v)
32. American robin*
33. Scarlet tanager
34. White-breasted nuthatch (v)
35. Turkey vulture
36. Purple finch (v)
37. Chipping sparrow**
38. Blue-headed vireo (v)
39. Eastern kingbird
40. Broad-winged hawk
41. Black-throated blue warbler (v)
42. Magnolia warbler
43. Merlin


44. House finch
45. European starling
46. Cooper’s hawk
47. House sparrow

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere
†First-of-year bird

Bird Report is a (sometimes intermittent) record of the birds I encounter while hiking, see while driving, or spy outside my window. —Brian Willson

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