Monday 8 October 2012

Dowitchers and Sparrows

The weekend has come to an end and now I'm back in Waterloo.

There were some good birds in the Ottawa region this weekend - but I spent most of my birding time at Constance Bay.

Most notably for me was a long overdue Nelson's Sparrow - a first for me!

After walking around the grassy marsh for a while, we hadn't seen or heard anything other than Swamp Sparrows. I was starting to lose hope - when I noticed some movement low down in the reeds. It was a Nelson's Sparrow feeding on what looked like some seeds. I'm surprised I managed to get a photo of it:

It was a great habitat for the species:

Eventually we found a couple more, and this one perched a little higher up - giving us a much better look:

Another good bird was a Dowitcher. At first I noted that it was an adult in winter plumage. I thought that Short-billed Dowitchers molt on their wintering grounds, and it was getting a bit late for that species. So that would indicate a Long-billed Dowitcher.

I've never seen a Dowitcher in winter-plumage so I didn't have any experience identifying them.

The breast seemed to have speckles:

and the flanks didn't seem to have very obvious barring (more like elongated speckles):

I consulted a few people, only to get differing opinions. Anyway, I'm leaning towards LBDO - but if you disagree, let me know why!
Indications of LBDO, are the darkish throat, straight supercilium, and the more obvious barring on the flanks - which are apparently not so obvious on SBDO is basic (winter) plumage.

I returned to the same area today and was happy to see my first Evening Grosbeak of the year! I didn't get pictures though.