Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Warblers at Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Last Week

Some birders like hawks, some birders like owls, some birders can't get enough of Great Blue Herons. I love warblers.

I've written about them before, and I will write about them again (have to finish the warbler ranking list!), and during the winter months I will dream about them. But today is not a winter month, oh no, today is a spring migration month. And that means....warblers!

It was slow, with only a trickle of Pine and Palm Warblers coming through (even slower than normal), but soon the Yellow-rumped arrived and then, while not quite a floodgate, there has been a nice amount coming through. Hooray for warblers!

But the best part is that besides the lots of Yellow-rumped, and the early ones such as the Pine and Palm, I got a couple nice rare ones.
Palm Warbler at Heinz, photo by D. Orsetti
The Palm Warblers were a little trickle for some time, but they've been pretty consistently seen this past week, some even posing for a picture. The Pine Warblers have mostly vacated, but are still around if you look, but spring is really here once the Yellow Warblers arrive.

Yellow Warbler at Heinz, photo by D. Orsetti
Yellows nest at Heinz (as do the recently arrived Common Yellowthroats), so I didn't have to worry about getting them on migration. That isn't the case of a couple of rarer warblers that I found.

Now, I'm not one to advertise and be immodest, but sometimes I have a rare successes while birding. So, while I was walking around early last Wednesday I was a little discouraged. Sure, migration was on and birds were moving through the area, but the temperatures had dropped from the 70s only days before and the wind was blowing cold. Bundled up at 6:30 in the morning and wandering around the fabled Warbler Woods in Heinz I thought I heard it.

You see, I had a quarry, a goal, and I had been preparing for it. I had studied my copy of Sibley and The Warbler Guide and listened to the song on my various birding apps. I was focused so that if the time came, I would know my Yellow-throated Warblers.

On that morning I heard the song in the woods. I heard it again, and again. I knew it was there, but a song wasn't good enough for me; I had to find it. So after searching for about a half hour, I kept going to find other good birds. Then I turned around and saw it.

Yellow-throated Warbler at Heinz, by D. Orsetti
Yellow-throated Warbler at Heinz, by D. Orsetti

YES! I got the camera up just in time to get four pictures off, with the two above actually turning out. I chased that thing by its song and it only showed up after I gave up. Another birder soon showed up about 15 minutes later, but despite combing the area, we didn't find it again and it hasn't been seen nor heard of since.

So after an hour or so of looking for it, I split with the other birder I was with and headed back home. I stopped by the spot where the Yellow-throated Warbler was to, of all things, take some pictures of a female Red-winged Blackbird.

Red-winged Blackbird at Heinz, by D. Orsetti
They are actually quite a nice looking bird, if a little too brown and finchy, but I'm not complaining because while I was there I noticed this:

Prothonotary Warbler at Heinz, by D. Orsetti
 And another angle.

Prothonotary Warbler at Heinz, by D. Orsetti

Oh, hell, here are a few more because it is so damn beautiful and photogenic!

Prothonotary Warbler at Heinz, by D. Orsetti
Prothonotary Warbler at Heinz, by D. Orsetti
Prothonotary Warbler at Heinz, by D. Orsetti
I saw it in the exact same spot as the Yellow-throated Warbler, which is also the exact spot where I saw the beautiful male Bay-breasted Warbler last year. I'm bringing a chair there next time.

It has stuck around for a few days (as of this writing) and dozens of people have seen it (including me a couple days later).

My next birding quarry? The one named after the state I lived in for many years: Kentucky Warbler. Wish me luck!

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