a new sparrow and a new swallow

5.20.22 ~ first beach rose of the season ~ Eastern Point

Friday’s morning walk around the beach, estuary, lawn and ponds turned out to be exciting, with two new lifer birds encountered! It was foggy and cool, with no hint of the record-breaking heat that is supposed to be coming for the weekend.

double-crested cormorant in the estuary
Savannah sparrow, #70

Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis: Uncommon local breeder in scattered grasslands and agricultural areas. Common migrant September to October and fairly common April in farm and weedy fields, community gardens, and marsh edges. Uncommon in winter; a few of the pale “Ipswich” subspecies winter locally on coastal dunes.
~ Frank Gallo
(Birding in Connecticut)

Savannah sparrow
a very tiny white flower in the grass
song sparrow on the gravel
mourning dove on the grass
little bird with nesting material on the lifeguard chair
(zoom lens in fog)
New London Ledge Light in the fog
northern rough-winged swallow, #71

Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis: Fairly common statewide migrant and nesting species from April into September near water. Breeds along waterways in holes, drainpipes, crevices, riverbanks, often near bridges or old bridge foundations, and coastal retaining walls.
~ Frank Gallo
(Birding in Connecticut)

northern rough-winged swallows
red-winged blackbird by the pond
red-winged blackbird
killdeer by the pond
killdeer

I’m kind of surprised we saw so many birds. Eastern Point Beach was sponsoring a busy event, the starting line for a Ragnar Road team relay race. The 200-mile race will end today in Quincy, Massachusetts. Every once in a while a team would take off. Announcements and pop music came from a loudspeaker. This is how it works:

Teams of 12 run roughly 200 miles—from point A to point B—on city streets, country roads, sidewalks, and bike paths. You’ll run day, and night, and day again, sleeping (ha ha) in vans, grassy fields, or perhaps a high school gym (with the principal’s permission). Each teammate will run three separate legs of the race, with downtime in between, for a total of 11 to 24 miles per runner (twice that for ultra teams). After the final pass of the baton—er, slap bracelet—you’ll cross beneath the iconic orange arch together, dripping with … pride.
~ Ragnar Road website

starting chute
half a team (6) takes off

It was an odd experience birdwatching and walking with music blaring at the beach! But one never knows how or when or where a new bird will turn up. And it certainly gave us a new topic for conversation. 😉

28 thoughts on “a new sparrow and a new swallow”

  1. I marvel at the fact that you have such a rich birdlife where you live! I SO miss swallows – their joyful screams while they play in the air – so happy that you share so many photos – the zoom-lens with that bird with the straw – a winner

    1. Thank you, Leelah. I don’t see swallows too often but do marvel at their flight patterns. It’s so rare to catch them perched somewhere for a photograph! That bird with nesting material was a surprise — I didn’t think the camera captured anything until I got home and saw the picture on the laptop screen. 🙂

  2. Woohoo, look at all those birds captures and species!! 🤗😊🤗 Congratulations on picking up two more lifers too, Barbara! I’ll wave to you if your Cloud 9 floats over my way!!

    1. Thank you, Donna!! 😊 Waving as I float by… 👋 As I often say, when I least expect it a new bird shows up. 🐦📷

  3. It was bird day for you and I loved the photos. So glad you got to see a couple of new birds. Your walks are always interesting and enjoyable.

    1. Thank you, Peggy. I never know what to expect when I walk out the door but I’m grateful for all the surprises. 🐦

  4. I enjoyed todays birds. I always get excited to see a red-winged blackbird! So striking. What an odd race. Humans are strange creatures.

    1. We are indeed strange creatures with an amazing array of interests and passions. I love red-winged blackbirds, too, and am happy so many of them nest in the cattails around that pond. Happy you enjoyed the pictures!

  5. So many sightings, congrats on your new lifers, Barbara. The overarching human presence would have put me off, but glad you carried on. I’ve never seen those swallows before, but I see they are a coastal species, which would explain why.

    1. Thank you, Eliza. I admit I had second thoughts about proceeding with the walk as planned but decided to go with the flow and make the best of it. We did see one of the swallows fly out of a small pipe sticking out of the sea wall. It was fun watching their flight patterns.

  6. What a delight to see two new birds. Both are new for me too. Sweet color and speckles on the Savannah sparrow.

    My favorite photo is the “little bird with nesting material on the lifeguard chair”. I’ve been watching the mourning doves collect their twigs in the front yard. They are very particular as to which twig the want!

    1. I love that photo, too, even though I didn’t think the camera caught anything until I got home and saw it enlarged on the laptop screen. I’m guessing it is a sparrow, not sure which kind. To find it had something in its mouth was a nice surprise!

      I can understand how much pleasure you get watching your mourning doves. I’ve read that they have up to five or six broods of chicks in one season. Not sure if they build a new nest for each batch.

      1. I’ve read that they have up to five or six broods of chicks in one season. Not sure if they build a new nest for each batch

        From my observation this spring, the mourning doves do not build a new nest each time. They recycle the same nest with a few fresh twigs. Sometimes I feel my two front oak trees are a bit bird-x-rated.

        But when I got to watch one of the new chicks sitting on top of my backyard fence, too young and scared, to take the next flight lesson, it was worth it. The two sat all day there. At dusk the chick hid it’s beak to body underneath momma’s legs. I could see the chick’s tail. And in the early morning they were still poised. Mid morning momma taught her chick to balance on the thin telephone line. Teeter Tooter all day long!

        1. Thanks for your observation, TD! I’ve never seen a mourning dove nest but I have seen them mating on the railing of my balcony. 😉 Definitely X-rated. What a blessing for you to see the mother teaching her chicks what they need to know to live well as mourning doves. A long time ago when I was weeding my garden a mother (or a father — I read mourning dove dads also teach the little ones) landed with her fledglings very close to me and started feeding on the ground. Took my breath away!

  7. Not sure I’d be up for a relay race day and night and repeat! Still, I guess it would be better to run in a cool fog than in the 90s, right? Glad you added two more birds to your “collection.” Our birds seem to have a LOT to say most days and are busy with nesting and so forth.

    1. I know I’d not be up for running any sort of race in any sort of weather — lol! It was interesting seeing so many birds going about their business with all the raucous human activity so close by. Maybe they’re concentrating on their nesting and their own calls so much that they can easily ignore us. 😉

  8. Wow. SO many pretty birds; you have quite the variety there and I love that you were able to get so many great photos of them.
    Those people who run those races, well they have some sort of gene that I am missing. I have NO desire to run anywhere at anytime much less over night.

    1. Thank you, Suz. It did turn out to be a great photo op that day, in spite of the human noise pollution and activities. You’re not alone, I’m missing that running gene, too. I could walk for hours but have never ever had the inclination to run. One doesn’t have to run to keep the body moving.

  9. I am delighted for your two new lifers, Barbara. Both are handsome finds, and the Northern rough-winged swallows must’ve been a bit tricky to identify. I liked seeing all the avian friends on the beach and was surprised when you wrote of the run activity nearby, because there are a lot of species here for that kind of commotion. Always a special treat to see one with nesting materials, too.

    1. Thank you, Jet. The northern rough-winged swallows were tricky. I wound up submitting the pictures to the American Birding Association’s “What’s this Bird?” Facebook group and was surprised when they were identified as I’d never heard of them before. It really was surprising that we saw so many different kinds of birds that crazy day. 🙂

  10. You sure had a fruitful day of bird sightings Barbara. You see a lot of Killdeer on your walks and always photograph them close-up. Those Sparrows are sweet and I especially like the small bird with the nesting materials. I wonder if I will see a Beach Rose at Humbug Marsh this year? I took a good look at yours so I’ll recognize it. Those Cormorants with their wings held out always make me smile and this one had an angry look with its open beak. The Red-winged Blackbirds are one of my favorite birds, for their color and their song – you captured it perfectly. I love all the nature photos of course; the New London Ledge Light in the fog was interesting.

    1. Thank you, Linda! The first time I ever saw a killdeer was the summer of 2020 and it seems like I see them almost every time I head down to the beach these days. I wonder what brought them here but it’s still excites me to see them, especially on those occasions when they stand still for a moment! Keeping my fingers crossed you’ll get to see a beach rose this year. 🤞 The red-winged blackbird had the prettiest song, it was fun trying to get a picture of him when he was singing.

      1. I heard a Killdeer today Barbara – I didn’t get a picture but saw him flying away. I recognize the wingspan and odd way of flying, like up and down swoops it seems. I was at Lake Erie Metropark yesterday and saw and heard so many red-winged blackbirds. I also like seeing how they puff out and flare their red and yellow “epaulets” while singing – very impressive. I was so excited yesterday to see Mute Swans and three cygnets. They were across the marsh, so it is not a large and/or completely clear picture and the water there is murky and full of dead reeds, but that made my day. Still hoping to see a beach rose at Humbug Marsh one day. 🙂

        1. So happy to hear you’re getting to see and hear so many birds the past couple of days!!! You’re on a roll, Linda — may finding a lovely beach rose be the next delight you encounter! 😊

          1. Yes, it was a fun weekend for bird discoveries Barbara. I was excited when a couple of barn swallows were just steps away from me – that was a first as I always try to take pictures of them in mid-air and am not successful. I hope I see a beach rose – I’ll remember the image of yours in my mind for reference. 🙂

          2. Most of the beach roses around here are dark pink but the white ones provide a little variety. Swallows are so interesting to watch but almost impossible to capture with a camera! 🙂

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