[CT Birds] Hammonassett Grasshopper Sparrow

Steve Morytko smorytko at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 15 21:08:08 EST 2012

Sorry for the late post but I had superb looks at the Grasshopper Sparrow yesterday (Wednesday). I had been told it was "in a grassy area near the stairs" that go up the small hill at Meigs Point. I had no luck there but decided that it likely would be somewhere in the area so I looked along the edge of the nearly empty parking lot and sure enough it came out from the tall weeds into the short grass to feed. It was closer to the area with the trail barrier that has 4 reflectors on it (to the N ?). I dipped on Clay-colored and the B-h gull but saw both species of crossbills, a number of R-b Nuthatches, and a Fox Sparrow - gorgeous day!

A few photos can be found here: https://plus.google.com/photos/108019186723516922000/albums/5811218404235004657?banner=pwa    This one's safe :)

Also on Wednesday about 4:15pm, there were 10 teenagers (some old enough to drive), apparently supervised by a mother, collecting cones from the Black Pines "for Xmas wreaths". By the time I saw them they had at least 5 15 gallon bags full of them. When I insisted that two that I came upon stop (they were standing on a picnic table pulling branches down to get at the cones) and told them it was illegal. They obliged claiming "they didn't know". About 2 minutes later 5 others, one with a hockey stick, walked over from farther east with 3 bags full and also apologized and said they "didn't know" either. This was definitely an organized effort to gather cones and they came prepared to gather them from the trees (not off the ground). I recorded their images for the record and they objected with "it's illegal to photograph underage girls". I wanted to say "You mean underage girls engaged in illegal activities don't you?" but bit my tongue.  I never did get
 to speak to the mother but I did record both license plates and attempted to find a ranger to report them. I only found a worker who didn't really seem that interested.

Obviously the cones are food for the crossbills so I would suggest that we discourage this kind of activity when we see it if we want to keep seeing them.
Steve Morytko
Ashford, CT

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