Hi Folks,

This morning during the North pinellas CBC we found a Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed
Sparrow in a small Spartina bed at the northern end of Caladesi Island in
Pinellas County. There were also at least a couple of Nelson's Sharp-tailed
Sparrows in the same area. This is the second winter in succession that I have found
a Saltmarsh in this spot and it is possibly the most southerly wintering
locality for this species on the gulf coast. The bird is a classic Saltmarsh with
almost no orange on the throat and breast so there is no sharp contrast
between this and the belly color as you would find on a Nelson's. The breast and
upper flanks are heavily streaked with discreet black streaks. There is also some
very fine dark brown streaking in the bold orange supercilium behind the eye
which is an extremely good field mark for Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed. I observed
the bird in perfect light down to about 25 feet and right out in the open for a
couple of minutes.

The best way to observe these birds here is to pish them out. They are
normally very responsive if there is no wind and often sit right out at the top of
the Saprtina. To get to the site go north on the beach at Caladesi until you
are almost at the northern end of the island. The Spartina bed is on the right
(east) side of the island at this point.

Ed Kwater
Brandon, FL

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