Birding Outing to Wicklow Beach, Chub Point and Lucas Point.
Seven intrepid birders met in pouring rain and cold easterly winds at Wicklow Beach on Sunday, October 6, not expecting much birding excitement on such an inclement day. However, the stormy weather had galvanized many loitering migrants that had been enjoying the late summer sunshine until then, and there were small birds almost everywhere. Trees and bushes around the Wicklow Beach marsh held both kinglets, Song and Swamp Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Common Yellowthroats. The lake was quieter (forgetting the cormorants), with only a few White-winged Scoters, Greater Scaup, and Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, not yet in the huge numbers that will soon appear in offshore feeding frenzies.
Moving on to Chub Point we added a couple of Common Loons and small groups of Horned Grebes in drab winter plumage. Then we turned down Normar Road towards Lucas Point and the fun began. The weedy roadsides were full of dozens of actively feeding sparrows, mostly White-crowned but with White-throated, Song, Savannah, and Vesper. The woodlots held Hermit Thrushes, young Sapsuckers, flickers and Downy Woodpeckers, a couple of towhees, both kinglets, many robins, catbirds, a Blue-headed Vireo, Nashville and Yellow-rumped Warblers. A pair of croaking ravens passing by was harassed by noisy crows and a single Greater Yellowlegs flew south high overhead, calling – our only shorebird of the day.
Eventually we dragged ourselves away from this horde and went on to Lucas Point Park. Walking the clifftop didn’t give us many new species although we thought that three tiny ducks flying behind a couple of White-winged Scoters were probably early Long-tailed Ducks. But the edge of the woodlot at the west end of the park was another hive of activity. Several energetic Yellow-rumped Warblers kept dashing out from the trees in acrobatic loops and spirals to catch tiny flying insects in midair, two or three Blue-throated Vireos gave good views, Brown Creepers crept up tree branches, a phoebe hunted from a wooden fence, a Chipping Sparrow joined White-throats in a small puddle on the trail and in the bushes we found several more warbler species including a tail-wagging Palm, a lovely Orange-crowned, a bright male American Redstart, a young Blackburnian, and a Northern Parula. The rain had finally stopped, we realized with surprise that it was already almost past lunchtime, so we brought our unexpectedly excellent trip to an end, well pleased with our final count of 49 species on such an unpromising morning.
...... Margaret Bain.
White-crowned Sparrow, fall, Lucas Point. Photo© Bruce Parker