Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Sparrows in South Dakota

Last Thursday I joined three strangers for a four hour drive to Milbank, South Dakota for a terrific three day sparrow workshop led by Doug Buri and Bob Janssen. By the time we pulled into Milbank I felt we were no longer strangers, but new friends and from there the weekend just got better and better. The workshop started Friday morning right in the field and one of our first birds of the day was also my first lifer- a Le Conte's Sparrow. I lost count of how many Le Conte's sparrows we saw that morning. According to Doug the conditions were perfect for finding Le Conte's: it was the beginning of October, the habitat was a grassy meadow with sunflowers and curly dock for perching, it was cool enough for dew on the grass and the air was calm- no wind. Le Conte's are particularly pishable, very curious and likely to stay around a bit when they hear pishing.
These are very beautiful birds. This one appeared content to pose, staying in view for several minutes.
The focus on this photo isn't very sharp but it shows the warm butterscotch color on the face, melting down into the upper breast.
Another lifer for me was the Savannah Sparrow. This is another beautiful sparrow with streaking over a whitish breast, a rather short slightly notched tail, and yellow lores. We saw quite a few Savannah Sparrows and the lores ranged from a deep yellow to a cream color. In class when Doug and Bob were talking about sparrow songs and calls one member of the class suggested the Savannah Sparrow song sounds like "I'ma Savaaaa-nnah".
I have a few more pictures to share but I spent most of my time without my camera- just trying to learn what Doug and Bob were teaching, getting good long looks at the birds there and taking in the vast beauty of the prairie.

20 comments:

ivars krafts said...

Wonderful pictures, Lynne. How I wish I hadn't been in Iowa?! I'm looking forward to the rest of your photos.

Linda in Erie said...

Thank you for taking us along on this trip with your photos. What a treat to see some new kind of sparrows that I haven't seen before. I can't wait for more!

Jayne said...

So glad it was everything you hoped it would be Lynne. The sparrows as a whole are so confusing at times. :c) The photos are beautiful.

NCmountainwoman said...

I knew we were going to benefit from this trip. Great photos. We're looking forward to the next batch.

Shellmo said...

Very nice photos - the background was perfect - gave that autumn feeling!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Beautiful pictures.The settings and lighting create a lovely scene.Lifers are always special,but so is every bird.

Carolyn H said...

Lynee: Great photos of birds that are usually tough to photograph. It sure sounds like a great weekend!

Carolyn H.

Leedra said...

Love the photos, and I understand the part about more without the camera than with it. Birding classes can be very frustrating if you are trying to get a photo, and everybody else is excited about a speck of a bird in the distance. Sounds like you had a great time, and made new friends, added bonus.

Will you look back at my October 4 post and see if you think it is a sparrow. The only comment I had was about a warbler. Hap hasn't left me any comments lately, don't know if he saw it. Thought he would id it.

dguzman said...

Beautiful! So cool that you're a sparrow expert now!

Lynne said...

Ivars- You have to go to this workshop! It was terrific. I'd never seen that prairie before and was quite moved by its vastness and increadible beauty.

Linda- It gave me such a deep appreciation for little brown birds.

Jayne- I don't think I could have learned what I did with just a field guide. The instructors were great.

ncmountainwoman- We all share what we learn. It's one of the many things I like about this blogging community.

Shelley- the fall lighting sure added the the beauty of the prairie.

Ruth- You are so right. Every bird is special.

Carolyn- It was a wonderful weekend.

Leedra- Though I love to have a photograph of the birds I've seen, it really can get in the way.

Delia- Expert shmexpert! (snort)

gardenpath said...

Sounds like a fun weekend, Lynne. We have Savannah sparrows, but the other one was new to me.

Tina said...

Wow, what a great experience. Getting to spend the days outside, watching birds and enjoying the sunshine...priceless! Glad you had a nice time and made some new friends!
:)

KatDoc said...

Love, love, love the sparrows, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the challenges they present. Le Conte's would be a lifer for me, too.

Nice photos - I find it nearly impossible to combine birding and photography; one or the other always suffers.

~K

Mary said...

Ok, Linne. You are our official sparrow expert. Hands down.

I'm so tickled that you are out there, enjoying the birds and yourself :o) It's about time!

Your photos rock. I can't wait to meet you in person. I'll learn so much from you...sparrows make me crazy.

Hugs,
May

Susan Gets Native said...

You point out the sparrows, I will point out the raptors. Deal?

Bird Girl said...

Sounds like you had a very worthwhile trip - then to have 2 lifer sparrows to add - wow - very cool indeed!

Kathleen said...

What beautiful photos from what must have been a truely special weekend. And, what a great class! I NEED to take one like this, too. I always have trouble telling one sparrow from another.

troutbirder said...

Very interesting and hope to see more. I realize I've got a lot to learn about sparrows.

T.R. said...

Such beautiful sparrow pictures! I am envious. And I have almost no talent when comes to sparrow ID. This is very inspiring!

Tim

Kathiesbirds said...

Love that last photo of the sparrow on the fencepost!