Swamp Thing

Thanks to the extra cycles in my schedule as of late, thought I would loop back into the spoils from the Texas Gulf Coast birding trips and see what’s left to tick that bird counter up. I’ve made it through most of the quality shots in preparation for the multiple talks I’ve given on the subject to local groups. I was shocked to still find a number of potential lifers in there. Sent some samples up to Ron who was able to confirm my initial IDs – score! Unfortunately, most of these encounters were momentary. I’d be intent on getting a target bird in the tin and then catch a brief glimpse of something moving in my periphery. Note to new birders – when you are away from the home base, if anything with feathers decides to crash your party – flip the shutter on it. If it turns out to be a common maybe you’ll get a better shot for your portfolio. You might just be surprised to find out its one that has been eluding you for years. Worse case, you tap that little key with the Del label on it and that moment in history never happened. I joke to myself that it was “Obelisked” in reference to the Egyptian structures that provided a historical accounting of the Pharaohs. Except that history was obliterated err deleted and a new manufactured history created in its place that put the new Pharaoh in better standing. Obscure, but I like to get some use out of all my non-core electives in college ha. Wow, drifted from the feature of tonight’s post.

Swamp Sparrow found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge Texas December 2017

As eluded to earlier, when this shot was taken I was in the midst of tracking a Sora (link here). That bird is a pain in the ass to get in the tin as it darts in and out of the reeds along the water banks. Just spotting them is task number one. From there you are trying to keep a focus on it as the glass bounces back and forth with every reed that comes between the two. Sometime in that adventure, this little brown jobber darted in for a quick check on meal options. Assuming it was just a common Sparrow, slid the barrel of the glass over, snapped a few for the record and then went back to being frustrated. It wasn’t until the review a few days ago that something triggered renewed interested. Actually that was the second trigger – the first was “Wow, Bri you need some photography lessons”. Basically bled through some foreground stalks. Honestly, lucky the glass didn’t start searching and completely ruin the encounter. This Sparrow might have only been there for less than five seconds, but it’s now an official check on my list.

Hit the jump to find out what this darkly colored bird is!

Swamp Sparrow found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge Texas December 2017

Yep, chalk up a Swamp Sparrow thanks to being in the right place at the right time in Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. If it wasn’t for the heavy grey on the face coupled with the deep markings on the back I might have overlooked it a second time. Sparrows are extremely difficult to ID due to many only have slight variations between each other. Snap a juvenile sparrow be prepared to spend the rest of the day in reference books. This species is fairly unique with its coloring – more rufous on the back than many, and those long dark back lines set it even farther apart. The feature that nailed it for me was the buff on the sides of the breast. The black eye line isn’t enough to classify a Sparrow on its own, but in combination of the other elements it was a lock for me. That just left a confirmation from Ron to pull out the ceremonial pen.

Swamp Sparrow found at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge Texas December 2017

Ooops, forgot there were not many shots of this bird. To the reference books to leave you with some interesting facts to compliment your morning coffee. Let’s start with my frustration in taking so long to get this in the tin. The Swamp winters in my home area. If you live anywhere in the eastern half of North America you should have no problem coming in contact with one. The fact I had to travel all the way to Texas to get my first is unbelievable. They do conceal themselves in dark habitats thanks to their dark feathering. They possess very long legs for a Sparrow allowing them to forage along the water’s edge. Better be sitting down for this next tidbit. The Swamp Sparrow almost always hangs out around water what!?! Bet you would never guess that other than the fact it is IMPLIED BY THEIR NAME. The Swamp was given the species name georgiana because the reference specimen came from the great state of Georgia. A place that I can confirm has some definite swamps. Here’s some foreshadowing…when the Texas spoils are finally covered we will be diving into the new birds we managed to tin on our Georgia trip.

Going to call it a night folks. Hope you enjoyed reading about the Swamp Thing.

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