Saturday, March 07, 2009

Oh, the frustration!

We parked the car in a little lane just off Crescent Beach. While Laurie got his beach boots on (and I'd forgotten mine, again; will I ever learn?), I walked on ahead, looking for budding leaves.

A woman was standing in the lane, craning her neck. In the tall, half-dead trees far overhead, something was making an awful racket; repeated machine-gun drumrolls a few seconds apart. A woodpecker.

We examined every branch, every tree. After a while, Laurie joined us. There was nothing there, but the drumming; no sign of a bird, it seemed. Finally, 'way up at the tip of a thin snag, a bump moved. Laurie got a tiny photo. (We must invest in a telescopic lens one of these days.) How does such a small bird, on such a tiny stick, make such a noise?

Long, sharp beak, speckled or striped breast, barely visible.

Another passerby discovered the second bird, a bit lower down, but still almost invisible. All I could see with the naked eye was a slight bump on the snag.

A brown, mottled bird, with whitish underside.

I think it's a flicker. It's hard to tell when you're looking from the bottom up.

Later, coming back to the car, we found this wren song Lincoln's sparrow* waiting for us:

It hung around, scrabbling through the duff quite tamely, for a while. We shot umpteen photos, but only in this one was it recognizable; mostly, it blended so well into the background, that the camera couldn't find it to focus. Half the time, I couldn't see it until it moved, even though it was only a few feet away.

And down on the beach, all the birds, hundreds of them, made sure they kept far away from us, and against the afternoon sun.

*After examining all the sparrows in the book, comparing it to this one, we've settled on a Lincoln's, blown off course. We could be wrong.



  1. Are you sure that's a wren? It looks more sparrowish. The beak seems wrong and the belly streaked rather than barred.

  2. Could it be a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)?

  3. Flickers can make an unbelievable amount of noise, especially the one that taps on our house! I think the last photo is a song sparrow...

  4. You are right; it's a sparrow. The way it was flicking its tail made me think "wren", and then I stopped thinking.

  5. I second (third?) the vote on Song Sparrow, particularly if they're more likely to be around at this time of year. Nice that you've got these birds hanging out there - it'll still be a few weeks before we see Song Sparrows and flickers!


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