Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Waiting for the Rail Trip, November 1

Dense fog delayed the rail field trip until tomorrow, Saturday, November 2.  Today I went back to Rutherford Beach Road to try for photographs of Nelson's Sparrow and Seaside Sparrow.  Donna Dittman also emailed me several locations to try for Sprague's Pipit--at the end of Rutherford Beach Road to the west of the little community, look in the grass along the beach, and also on Aguillard Road in Thornwell north of the water tower, check the airstrip.   On my way to Rutherford Beach Road, I stopped at Pintail Loop again on the outside chance that I would see a King Rail.   I started walking the board walk counter-clockwise.  Shortly after I started, several vans arrived with obvious birders and started walking clock-wise.  Later I discovered that this was the Field Guides trip.  They stopped shortly after entering the boardwalk, and when I arrived at their location they had several close range King Rails calling.  I stayed for a while but never got to see the very close King Rails.  They can really hide.  Hopefully, I will see them on the trip for Yellow Rails tomorrow.  I continued to Rutherford Beach Road and found the Nelson's and Seaside Sparrows again.  It was harder to get photos than I expected.  The Nelson's Sparrow sat up nicely again to my kissing and squeaking noises using mouth and fingers, but not at close range.  Eventually, with patience and perseverance, I got my photos of Seaside Sparrow.  See photos below.
Nelson's Sparrow,
buffy breast with indistinct and limited streaking, white belly, gray median stripe on crown, relatively small bill,
bill open-bird was chipping
Nelson's Sparrow
Here's looking at you!
showing gray median stripe on crown
Seaside Sparrow
Typically hiding!
Seaside Sparrow
That's better!
Seaside Sparrow
showing large bill and color on face
Yesterday, in the gloom and rain, a rail was out on Rutherford Beach Road but it was too dark to see details.  It was a large rail; therefore I assumed that it was a Clapper Rail, because this was a salt marsh area right close to the Gulf.  Today, I also saw it briefly, but it did not stay long enough to see it well. 

I walked the grassy area to the west of the community along the Gulf.  there was a dirt road with short grass on both sides up away from the water.  I did not take the chance and drive this road, because I did not have four wheel drive and did not want to take the chance at getting stuck.  I walked only about a mile of the short grass that seemed to stretch forever (at least on foot), approximately 2-3 miles by my estimate.  There were Killdeer, one Black-bellied Plover and a fly-by Least Sandpiper.  I found one lonely Sanderling on the beach and had a flock of about six American Avocets fly-by.  I also saw a fly-by Black Skimmer.

On my way back north, I stopped at Pintail Loop again, but had no success in hearing or seeing king Rail.  Then I headed north and east to Thornwell to try for Sprague's Pipit on Aguillard Road on the airstrip.  By this time, the sun was dropping rapidly in the west.  I drove slowly along Aguillard Road and carefully checked the many Savannah Sparrows flushed from the roadside and airstrip.  I did not find a Sprague's Pipit.  I will need to check this spot again, maybe in the morning early before the rail trip.  No new birds added today, but an enjoyable day birding and getting photographs in Louisiana.  I headed back to Jennings for R & R for the Yellow Rail trip tomorrow.    

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