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Posted by: atowhee | October 25, 2010

SPARROWS AND CHAIN-SAWS

There was plenty of ground action at Ashland Pond, and far too much noise.

Last winter there were two White-throated Sparrows at Ashland Pond.  Here’s my best shot of the first one I’ve seen there this year.  They are a scarce, but regular, wintering bird here in the Rogue Valley.  On this bird the bold golden spot at the front of the eye was visible.

Other wintering sparrows species were abundant: Golden and White-crowned, Song, House…didn’t spot a single Fox…yet.

Here are a few of the sparrows, feeding along the path. Front bird is darker, a Golden-crowned.  Then a more pale gray chested bird with black lines on its head, mature White-crowned.  Smaller than the G-C, as well.

Left to right: W-C, W-C, G-C Sparrow.  Note the overall darker appearance of the G-C.

Same two Zonotrichia species next to one another.

Young White-crowned, not old enough to show his bold white stripes yet.

Sparrow from a different genus, Melospiza. This is a Song Sparrow, probably a migrant from further north, darker than the local breeding race of Song Sparrow.  This species is related most closely to Lincoln’s and Swamp Sparrows.

And here’s the Song Sparrow preening:

NOT SPARROWS

Cooper’s Hawk, high in bare tree, watching the smaller birds.  Thinking lunch.  A Scrub-Jay was keeping a sharp eye on this accipiter.

FOS picture of Hermit Thrush in Bear Creek Valley.

Purple Finch, FOS for Ashland Pond.  A small flock will be there all winter.

The back of a Belted Kingfisher.  Often this is about as good an image as you can get.  Often heard, frequently seen, badly photographed. That;s North America’s #1 kingfisher species.

The view from street near the pond, looking eastward up at Grizzly Peak, nearly 6000′ high.  The snow level overnight had dropped down below 5000′.  Grizzly is in the front range of the Cascades north and east of Ashland.  Great Gray Owl territory up there.

GANG WARFARE

Gang warfare invaded Ashland Pond this morning while I was birding. A gang of guys with chainsaws.  They were mowing down the brush and politically incorrect plants along Ashland Pond.

It’s part of an intentional plan to remove invasives, put in plants believed to be native and thus restore better salmon sproutling habitat to Ashland Creek.  I see it is bad news for politically incorrect blackberry bushes, the Wrentit and California Quail that hide in them and any other bird wishing for a brushy hideout.  I shall leave Ashland Pond birding to braver souls more able to imagine a happy outcome to this latest display of human arrogance.  I’ll take my binoculars to quieter realms.  Today the dozen chainsaws not only drowned out the rattle of Mr. Kingfisher, but they actually made far more noise than the trucks on nearby I-5.

Another birder told me she’d seen the Cooper’s Hawk chasing the Kingfisher.  After the first pass obviously failed, the Coop was in over its head.  Must have been a young bird.

Location:     Ashland Pond
Observation date:     10/25/10
Number of species:     24

Pied-billed Grebe     2
Cooper’s Hawk     1
Mourning Dove     2
Belted Kingfisher     1
Acorn Woodpecker     2
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     1
Black Phoebe     1
Western Scrub-Jay     8
American Crow     1
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
Hermit Thrush     1
American Robin     2
European Starling     30
Yellow-rumped Warbler     10
Spotted Towhee     4
Song Sparrow     16
White-throated Sparrow     1
White-crowned Sparrow     12
Golden-crowned Sparrow     50
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)     8
Purple Finch     2
Lesser Goldfinch     12
House Sparrow     8

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