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Patterson Park; Goshawk, Am. bittern, woodcock, grasshopper sparrow


"CURSON, David"




Sat, 28 Oct 2006 15:04:39 -0400

Dear Ospreyers,

The rain stopped as we started the Audubon monthly birdwalk and there were some interesting birds about after this warm front passed!

The woodcock was walking along the fence bordering the west side of the maintenance yard, under the line of pine trees. The grasshopper sparrow was on and around the yellow snow ploughs in the maintenance yard - these were found by Keith Costley yesterday, thanks Keith ! This is also the best place at the moment to see towhees, other sparrows and thrushes.  The bittern jumped out of the tiny patch of emmergent marsh vegeatation at the pond and flew across to the island where it managed to remain hidden. 

The goshawk, an immature bird, was perched on the fence of the community gardens and then flew low across the gardens and disappeared in the trees. I'm 99% sure of its ID but I've never seen a young goshawk perched like this and I did not get to see its flight profile. When I first saw it I expected to be a Buteo due to its size but the lack of any concentrated areas of brown on the head or breast were notable. I was surprised how whitish its head appeared. There was no buff colour on the head or breast, the background colour was white. Perhaps someone with could let me know if this is normal, or even point me towards photos that show variability in head and breast colour of immature goshawks.  The breast had well defined brown streaks fairly evenly distributed and the head was white with fine streaking of brown. There was an indistinct white supercilium behind the eye. Back and wings were brown and there was a distinct region of large white spots on the scapulars. When it flew I checked the wings for pale crescents, just in case of a strange pale Red-shouldered Hawk, but these were absent.

Here's the migrant list for the morning:

Great Blue Heron	1	
American Bittern	1	
Northern Goshawk	1	
American Woodcock	1	
Eastern Phoebe	10	
Gray Catbird	1	
Hermit Thrush	6	
Brown Creeper	3	
Golden-crowned Kinglet	5	
Ruby-crowned Kinglet	5	
Black-throated Green Warbler	1	
Eastern Towhee	4	
Field Sparrow	1	
Chipping Sparrow	10	
Grasshopper Sparrow	1	
White-throated Sparrow	10	
Song Sparrow	10	
Dark-eyed Junco	10	


David Curson, PhD
Director of Bird Conservation,
Audubon MD-DC,
2437 Eastern Avenue,
Baltimore  MD  21224
Tel: (410) 558 2473