Frank Mantlik found a rare vagrant adult Lark Sparrow at Stratford Point yesterday, snapping this record photo of what was an elusive bird.
It stayed in the grasses most of the time and out of sight at a distance. Those who visited and did their best to relocate it throughout the day came up unsuccessful. It could very well be hidden away in the many open areas of grass and gravel driveway, or it could have moved to nearby yards or even Short Beach. There are plenty of open spaces on the Stratford coast for such a bird.
What was very cool about this rarity was that on September 2, 2011, Twan and I had walked into a Lark Sparrow feeding in the driveway on weeds at Stratford Point as you can see here. That bird was probably a result of Tropical Storm Irene - not an immediate and direct victim of the storm, but one that was driven to the northeast coast by the powerful northwest flow out of Canada and the central United States in the wake of the massive low moving away. With that said, hey, what a coincidence that we just had a cold front pass through with a lot of bird movement Saturday night and some more last night (probably not!). A handful of Lark Sparrows usually do show up in the east in the "fall" migration season, but having one at the same location in back-to-back years is awesome. Maybe this is the same bird that enjoyed its trip along the Atlantic coastline last year.
Even though I was at Stratford Point for hours on Sunday, and had covered the entire property including the area near the lighthouse where Frank found the bird, I did not come up with anything too out of the ordinary. My highlights were an American Golden Plover, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher who sat out long enough for me to see its yellow throat, and a fly-by Red Knot. I did have 58 species, a strong but expected total for the date after such a frontal passage. Please stop by Stratford Point or Milford Point soon as we are now entering a big two months at the mouth of the Housatonic.
Photo © Frank Mantlik and not to be reproduced without explicit permission