[CT Birds] seeing sparrows

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Fri Jun 19 08:15:13 EDT 2009

A few people have emailed me to ask about how to get good views of saltmarsh and seaside sparrows at Hammo, so I thought I would copy my response to the whole list.
The spot I mentioned in my earlier email is very good for
sparrows.  It's the trail that goes from the NE corner of the Meig's point
parking lot and heads through the strip of woods that extends into the marsh to
the east of Willard's Island.  There is a gravel path that ends up at a
wooden platform.  This raises you above the marsh making viewing
easier.  The challenge with getting good looks at sparrows is not seeing
them (they zip around above the grass all the time), but seeing them perched
(usually they perch down at ground level hidden by grass).

Wednesday we saw 10+ sharp-taileds (including the banded and white-primaried
birds) from this platform and 2-3 seasides.  This was mid afternoon (3-4
ish), though birds were active elsewhere in the marsh all day long.  Early
morning or late afternoon/evening is probably best for seeing them
though.  The seasides were singing constantly, usually while sitting up on
a high spot in the grass.  Sharp-taileds do sing but not very much and
they are very quiet, so you probably won't hear them (they need to be well within 50 m
for most people to hear them).  

From this platform you should be able to get good views of least terns on the
beach too.

One more thing.  If you can time your trip to come right after the highest spring tides (i.e., right after the new/full moon), then do so. 
Many sharp-tailed nests flood on these high tides and there is always a lot of
activity in the following few days as females build new nests and males try to
attract females.  It's the best time to hear sharp-taileds singing (though
you still need to be close by) and to see them doing flight displays (which are rare).

Hope that this helps,


Chris Elphick

Storrs, CT

elphick at sbcglobal.net

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