I had breakfast in my room again, but picked up an additional breakfast meal to carry with me. This could be a busy day! I arrived at the bridge on Fowler Beach Road and parked at the point just beyond the bridge where the road was blocked. One can walk the road beyond to the beach, but not drive. The road is showing some damage from storms and/or very high tides. Frank Rohrbacher had directed me to the bridge and the road beyond. It was just as he described it. Thanks again, buddy. The best place to see Saltmarsh Sparrow was either near the bridge where people fish and crab or along the road toward the beach. The fog was still thick so visibility was limited but I could see well enough to see maybe 50-60 feet out from the road edge. The salt marsh was right up against the road; therefore, I still had a chance to see birds early before the fog lifts. Being optimistic, I got my camera ready and started walking slowly out the road toward the beach, spishing and making kissing noises with my lips against my fingers. This worked in the past in Delaware and also in Louisiana late in October of this year. It should be good here too.
When I got almost to the end of the road, some Seaside Sparrows responded to my noises on the north side of the road as well as on the south side of the road. They sat up and made their "tuck tuck" calls. There were about five Seaside Sparrows that responded but no Saltmarsh Sparrows. These Seaside Sparrows were as I remembered them--dark overall maybe darker than the Gulfcoast Seaside Sparrow seen on Halloween in Louisiana. However, these eastcoast Seaside Sparrows had more orange color on their breast than I remembered. It was getting brighter as the sun started burning through the fog. See photos below.
Whatsup? Why all the noise?
|Saltmarsh Sparrow, |
heavy streaking across breast, upper belly and sides, buffy-orange
in supercillium, malar streak and upper breast, large bill, gray median stripe on crown
|Saltmarsh Sparrow, note large bill, relatively flat crown|
|Saltmarsh Sparrow, |
sharp ends to tail feathers, typical spread eagle stance on strands of grass
I called Andie Ednie to thank him for the information and told him that I had seen Saltmarsh Sparrow and Seaside Sparrow as well as the Manx Shearwaters on the pelagic trip yesterday. It was time to move on and say goodbye to Delaware....for now at least. One never knows during a Big Year. I headed back down Route 1 to the Wawa Dairy convenience store to fill my gas tank and then headed west to Georgetown, Delaware to Route 404 and the Bay Bridge. Andie had alerted me that bad weather was headed our way and high winds and rain were predicted for Pittsburgh, PA. It started rain while I was driving on the PA Turnpike toward Pittsburgh. It rained harder with very hard showers as I headed west to the Ohio Turnpike and then on to Cleveland, Ohio. Just before I arrived at my motel on I-90 in Mentor just east of Cleveland, a very strong gust of wind blew across the interstate pushing my car to the right. The rain was so heavy that I could barely see. I slowed down, and let the crazies fly by me on the road. Fortunately that did not last long, and I was within a few miles of my final destination. I safely reached my motel and spent the night in Mentor, and found enough to eat at a 7-Eleven next door to the motel for a healthy late meal. Tomorrow, I try for Little Gull.
Saltmarsh Sparrow is new for the year and raises the total to 699 + 2.