I sent this once but apparently there was a snafu. as it has not shown up after 2 hours.
Even though the weather was going to be near perfect for warblers and the like at MBS, I left a
day early to conduct the 112th walking and two year anniversery of my eBird route through the
reclaimed grasslands of Harrison County. Before I get to that, I would like to say I very much enjoyed
the MBS and the speakers I saw were all very good. After using Stephenson and Whittle's Warbler
Guide for two days, I do believe it is as revolutionary as the reviews suggest. Another book I
purchased was Behrens and Cox's Peterson's Seawatching. Cox was a truly good speaker and I
enthusiastically recommend following his advice to read the introduction of this book, even if you
have no interest in seawatching. The tips on IDing birds you cannot see well by shape, flight, etc
apply to many groups, especially the sparrows. To quote them, "Far fewer birders spend extended
time watching and documenting the normal biennial waves of migrating waterbirds that sweep
across North America..." The same can be said of sparrows.
I knew it was going to be an awesome sparrow day when I had 32 birds while leaning on the hood
of my car. The first multiflora rose bush had 21 sparrows, 4 GRSP and 17 SAVS. This time of year the
birds are fueling up for migration and they tend to accumulate around lakes, feeding on the grass
that comes up as the water recedes (I do not know the species of the grass). In one field of view, I
had 27 sparrows along a lake, 24 of which were SAVS. The Vespers tend to leave en masse a week
earlier than the SAVS and I apparently missed their gathering since I had not done the route for 14
days. I ended up with 85 SAVS, 23 GRSP, 22 FISP, 17 SOSP, 9 VESP, 3 HESP, 2 SWSP and 1 LISP. The
complete list with notes can be viewed at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S15228644.
The bonus is they are in fresh plumage and the colors are astounding.
So how many species can one see in two years while walking 3 miles through grasslands that has
several small lakes and 20 acres of woods? It appears 151, if my math is right.
The bad news is in order for the coal company to get this property off bond, they are being
required to cut "creeks" from the one to two tenths acre pot holes to the lakes, thereby destroying
unbelievable stopover or fueling up areas for these sparrows. Even though the soil is too poor to
grow trees, the were also required to plant them for the reclamation of this ground. Why? Because
that is what the regulations say and inspectors know the regulations well but apparently do not have
any idea of what they are destroying or a damn thing about ecosystems! The good news for the
habitat is it appears none of the trees survived but it was still a huge waste of time and resources to
Scott Pendleton, Harrison County
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