Henslow's Sparrows at Hal Scott Preserve, 3/25/2017
A few days ago a friend of mine visited Hal Scott to monitor the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers that breed on the grounds. As he walked through the wiregrass, he flushed about 3 Henslow's Sparrows. There is so much good habitat for this species in this park, but I've never really gone searching for them because they're so hard to find. But it seems this Spring, they've started singing, and they even pop up onto branches to be seen.
So a group of us set out yesterday morning to find these sparrows. The spot was about 4 miles away from the parking area, and we needed to be there around sunrise, so we rode bikes to get to the spot. It didn't take long, but my bike was woefully unprepared for the journey. I only have a road bike with thin tires, and the bike is over 20 years old. It's a very good bike, but I found out it's in disrepair. Tires are dry rotted, and as I rode out there, the rear tire frayed on one side--it was literally shredded, exposing the tube. However, I made it to the spot, without with a fair amount of pain, by around 7:30am. At around 7:45, we started seeing them. We found three in the spot my friend had found them in. But we noticed there was plenty of habitat here. The pine flatwoods with wiregrass were everywhere, so we decided to explore the area and see if there were more around. We found 4 more. Sometimes they perched to provide good views, and sometimes we only saw them briefly as they flushed out of the wiregrass and back in. We also saw about 3 Red-cockaded Woodpeckers in the area. Normally that's the highlight of a hike in this property, but this time it it was just a side benefit.
By about 10am, we decided to head back, and we decided to continue the yellow trail we were riding on around a loop to then make it back to the car. When we crossed a patch of gravel on the trail, my rear tire just gave out. It popped, forcing us to stop and change the tire. We also found out that one of my gear shifters was broken. So we had to shove a stick in a mechanism to keep the bike in a proper gear. Well, long story short, it was really difficult to keep my bike going, but we made it back by around noon. Even with the pain of riding on an inappropriate bike for the soft, sandy trails, it was totally fun. Next time, though, I think I'll invest in an off-road bike.