Denizens of the saltmarshes

I managed a late spurt in my Hudson County Not-So-Big-Year this weekend, adding some laggards which I should really have had by now; American wigeon, Carolina wren, field and savannah sparrows, and ovenbird! (the latter isn't as easy as you'd expect in Hudson, which is very strange as a few hundred yards over the river, NYC is dripping with fall ovenbirds in almost every available inch of habitat). The same goes for thrashers, which seemed to have forsaken Hudson for Manhattan this fall.

Hitting Ocean Terminal for my second attempt at Nelson's sparrow (walking the sea wall netted me constant false alarms as swamps sparrows constantly popped up in response to pishing), I bumped into a birder from Nyack, NY and we finally got on at least 4 saltmarsh sharp-tails, which were swaying on the seed-heads of the spartina grasses.

But after nearly two hours, still no Nelsons.

With the wind picking up, I gave up and was driving out when I passed Mike Britt sitting on the sea wall, so I stopped to say hi. He was trying to conjure up a Eurasian wigeon, and after he left i thought I'd grab once last quick scan of the marsh. A few seconds later, movement! Two sharp-tails were methodically working the edge of the spartina, staying a foot or so inside the edge. After some cat and mouse and fleeting glimpses, both birds ventured close enough to the edge for great views. Finally, two Nelsons.

I'd go out on a limb to say they were both alterus interior birds, bad cellphone pics notwithstanding.

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I work in NYC and own a wildlife and wilderness agency specializing in the southern cone of South America. I still do some guiding down there, especially looking for Fuegian and Patagonian avifauna. I'm particularly interested in the wintering ecology of neotropical migrants, and in avian biogeography in general. You can follow me at - @domhall And find me at - AventuraArgentina.com