A quick visit to a mostly frozen over Otter Slough CA last night yielded several ducks still holding in there on Cypress Lake and several other small open areas of water. As expected, numbers are down quite a bit.
Due to limited time (daylight after work), I birded mainly from the truck around Cypress Lake and stopped in at the HQ building where there were 30+ Northern Cardinals. I managed to observe two separate E. Phoebes and one Palm Warbler.
Nearing nightfall and not having observed White-crowned Sparrows, I went to my old WCSP fail safe, the campground area just South of Otter Slough's east entrance. It was here that I was looking over 30+ White-crowned's searching through the mowed grasses, running here and darting there. In the mix was a lone American Tree Sparrow which I though a bit out of character.
While double and triple checking the White-crowned Sparrows, I kept hearing a rather low somewhat rapid "tek" note coming from over by the ditch that borders the mowed grass field. I reached into the vast void of my memory and couldn't place the chip note. Going to investigate (keeping along the edges so as to not disturb the feeding sparrows in the field), I krept along until I stood in front of the ditch with fallen cattails and reeds. The "tek" continued. Rolling the call notes over and again in my head, I kept thinking that I hadn't heard this note all winter and began mulling over the habitat and what I've observed in the past during January there at Otter Slough and other similar habitats . . . Sedge Wren? Marsh Wren? . . . "Marsh Wren seems to fit the bill", I told myself.
Pishing efforts produced a few Swamp and Song Sparrows, then a lighter mousey acting bird was seen bouncing around behind much of the scrubby sticks. The bird was a female Common Yellowthroat and came from a different direction of the "tek" note. Daylight seriously suffocated by impending nightfall, I took a few cautious steps into the reeds with a few punctuated pishes and up popped a Marsh Wren.
Both the C. Yellowthroat and the Marsh Wren are considered winter visitors and rare so no documentation is needed, but I will include these in my winter records report to Joe Eades.
It was a fun evening as the thousands of snow geese in nearby fields were errupting every 8-10 minutes as an Eagle would pass overhead, and the evening was illuminated by a most beautiful reddish-orange sunset for a backdrop to the west!
Also of note: Dexter City Lake at lunch (1/14), a lone Wilson's Snipe flew over shortly after I arrived.
Bird on fellow birders!

Chris Barrigar
Stoddard Co.
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