Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dickcissel in Guilford County

First, some blog business.  The number of posts to this blog have been (and will continue to be) relatively low.  This is because most of my writing efforts have gone into The Birder's Conundrum, a new blog jointly managed by Sam Jolly.  I still plan on updating this blog from time to time, but not as frequently as in the past.

Anyway, it's July.  July is the worst.  It is the time of year where birders retreat back into their holes to avoid the oppressive heat and general lack of bird life.  But a few weeks ago, while I was trying (and failing) to find good birds at Sunset Beach, a few breeding Dickcissels were found up in Guilford County, near Greensboro.  Dickcissels are rare breeders in North Carolina, and I had yet to see one in our state.  So, this week, with the promise of cooler temperatures, I made the 75 minute drive to the farm.

I pulled off on the shoulder of the road to scan the fields.  There were scores of Grasshopper Sparrows singing and flying around everywhere, some quite close.  Anything Ammodramus has a way of cheering me up, but they weren't what I was after.

Grasshopper Sparrow, taken from my car
I was starting to get worried.  It had been over a week since anyone had reported the Dickcissels, and there was no sign of them now.  I drove down the road, and scanned again.  I heard the classic Dickcissel flight call behind me, and started looking around frantically.  I didn't want to put this one down in the "heard only" category.  Luckily, after a few seconds, I spotted the bird perched on a wire not too far from me.  I edged a little closer, and got excellent views of my 301st NC bird.  It was definitely worth the drive up there.

Dickcissel success!