Notes From The Field

Grassland Series

After dipping on the Willets and Marbled Godwit at East Fork S.P. this morning I made the decision to make the big loop around the city and visit my go-to spot for another of our summer grassland birds. The Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) 

Not nearly as reclusive as the Henslow’s Sparrow, however they aren’t a sure thing when visiting any grassland in this area. With a very high pitched, insect buzz of a call this might be the only way to locate these small brown birds. But the good thing is when you do hear them call it’s a good indication that they’re tied up on something.

IMG_2794This is Smith Tract County Park. A undeveloped piece of property that is so ideal for grassland birds during the summer.

Today was a digiscoping day and I was determined to capture a Grasshopper Sparrow so I could continue this series of posts. However there is one bird I neglected to mention. During the summer you can find them pretty much anywhere, however they do prefer brushy open fields.

IMG_2819Indigo Bunting belting out a tune.

One nice thing about Smith Tract is the low number of Red-winged Blackbirds. It’s not like there were none. It’s nice not having to pick out bird calls over the noise they can make when there are multiple numbers of these noisy birds.

Probably the loudest birds there today were the Dickcissels.


As I made my way down the hill towards the flat section of the park there was an area that was holding a lot of water from the rain yesterday. Before I walked around this wet area I scanned the tops of the vegetation. Grasshopper Sparrows were beginning to sing and I wanted to be patient with these spooky birds.

IMG_2799There he was. He was a good distance from me, and this was the best picture I could get. I wanted to circle the wet area and get a closer shot, but…he flew off!

I continued on another 100 yards and kept hearing multiple birds calling on both sides of me. Not sure which direction to go I just stayed put this time. Then I found another one off to my right. Not wanting to blow this opportunity I moved real slow towards this silent bird.

IMG_2816With a beak full of something green this Grasshopper was very cooperative. I would take a few pictures, creep forward a few yards and stop to take more pictures. This was my best from the lot I took.

Satisfied with today’s find and photographs I made my way back to the car, but not after getting a shot of an Eastern Meadowlark next to the parking lot.

IMG_2833Another bird with a beak full of something.

As the dog days of Summer wear on in the Ohio Valley hopefully I’ll be able to continue with this series on grassland/ wetland birds. Only if it quits raining long enough to get out.


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