Time for a brief delay in art posts to show this photo of some handsome Chipping Sparrows seen at Andorra Meadows in Philadelphia today. This is done strictly for ebird so that they will stop questioning the fact that I've seen Chipping Sparrows there this winter.
I really don't see Chipping Sparrows that often and have been shocked many times when I see one birding elsewhere and everyone around me looks like there's something wrong because I'm fooled by such a common bird. They are common, but only in some environments and at some times of year. I guess they are, or more likely, have been rare in Pennsylvania in the past in winter. But now they are regular at Houston Meadows and Andorra Natural Area in fall and winter. I think I've seen them every winter month for the last two years.
Oddly though they're not that easy to photograph, at least not without better equipment than mine. They are relatively small and, at least in winter, fairly skittish. Often I see them backlit in trees, too far away to get much of a photo, or even to sketch for that matter. I'd like to sketch them but I think my only chance will be through a scope. But inevitably if I bring a scope I won't see them! Today's birds were surprisingly cooperative. As I looked at the 3 seen here I finally noticed 9 others scattered about within a few feet. But once they flew they were gone and I never saw them again.
But the Chipping Sparrows weren't the big thrill of the day. Instead it was the Osprey above. It's very early for them but we are having unusually warm weather and there was a very strong wind. Perhaps he was blown north by the storm. Or so I thought for about 30 minutes. As I drove home I saw a Ring-billed Gull in flight and I remembered how long and bent their wings can be. And I remembered I'd seen one much lower in the sky a few minutes before seeing my 'osprey.' Sad to say I don't think there's much doubt that the osprey was really a Ring-billed Gull!! Well maybe not all that sad. I do think I'd prefer for the seasons to stick to their normal course and not be horribly speeded up, most likely due to global warming.