I'll let Kenn Kaufman explain a bit (from the Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding):
"No group of birds in North America separates birders from non-birders so sharply as the warblers. The average person may have never seen a warbler, even unknowingly, and may not know that such birds exist. Birders, on the other hand, may focus a major amount of their energy on warblers, especially in spring and fall. The arrival of warblers migrating north from the tropics is a highlight of spring for many birders, especially in the East. The challenge of identifying fall warblers is an absorbing puzzle for many observers, and the search for vagrant eastern warblers is a major preoccupation for many western birders, particularly in fall."
Spring migration is over, and I already miss it, but instead of wallowing in pity over it being done, I thought it would be better to celebrate the wonderful birds that we did see. This works well because I got my new camera just before migration started (not a coincidence) and I tried to get as many pictures as I could.
So what warblers did I see this year? I saw 26 all of last year (lame!), but this year I did much better and saw 30, though remember this is just for spring (come on fun fall warblers!). There are a couple that I could have gotten but didn't, which I'll go over first, along with my excuses.
Warblers I did NOT get this spring:
-Cerulean Warbler. Yeah, it isn't common here, but it was hanging out at Heinz NWR (you know, one of my main hangouts) for a couple days. BUT....I was working and busy those days. Let me tell you, I knew I was missing out. I should have gotten this (it seems everyone else in the Philly area did).
-Kentucky Warbler. My former state's warbler. You see, I know where they are in Ridley Creek State Park near me, and people have told me where to look. But I've looked a few times and have neither seen nor heard them. I'll keep trying since they apparently are nesting there.
-Tennessee Warbler. I swear I did see this, but I am only about 80% sure of it because some guy was nearby and was very (monotonally) talkative about trying to show me the damn American Redstart he was taking a picture of. Also it flew away.
-Yellow-breasted Chat. Not really a warbler, and this one is a gimme because they are at least down at Cape May.
Ok, what warblers DID I see?
(As always, all photographs by Damon Orsetti and taken this spring. Don't steal them please.)
A few weeks ago I saw someone report a couple American Redstarts around here and they said something like "late migrants coming through." I though that strange because just a week earlier I saw at least a dozen. The next I day I went out and didn't see any. Duh.
My favorite warbler, and this year was pretty good for seeing them late in migration. They weren't as easy to photograph, with my best picture of a male being barely visible in the corner of a picture. This isn't that picture.
|This was actually a late bird; my pictures of the regular migrants were all crappy|
-Black-throated Green Warbler:
Nope, no pictures for this one. Always in the trees....
-Cape May Warbler:
Another "no pictures". I saw this when I saw my first Bay-breasted and was dying to get a picture of both, to no avail.
No picture again, but I've seen and heard them a bunch near where the Kentucky Warblers should be. Always in the branches not wanting their picture taken.
This is the best picture I have, lame but still discernible.
Another "no picture". I swear I had a great clear view of this one all lined up, but it flew off before I could get the picture. No more clear views after that.
Seen twice! Once in Cape May and once in Philly. For the Philly one, me and a birder friend took pictures of it (his turned out, mine didn't) and agonized over it for weeks before convincing ourselves that it was an Orange-crowned (others agreed).
A group of us found a nicely early one, which we heard and saw. I didn't get my camera on it in time, though I would find them again later. Yep, except after that it was just hearing them and not seeing them. No photo
See this bird here? Yeah, that was me finding the first of the year Prothonotary Warbler. Not just my personal FOY. Not just Philadelphia FOY. But Pennsylvania FOY. A rare personal birding triumph! Granted, I'm sure many others would have found it, and dozens of other birders did see it (it was putting on a show for days in the same area).
A total suprise for me to find this one, as it was only about a mile from my house in Taylor Arboretum. I later saw (briefly). but mostly heard. one at Heinz. The one in Taylor shocked me, and I just about screamed with joy as I chased that thing around to get a good picture (I knew it needed a picture) despite a low-flying Broad-winged Hawk above me just begging to be photographed. I knew which one was more important to get a picture of, though. Interestingly, it was a pretty good year for Worm-eating Warblers around here, with all the activity (many sightings in the area) around the same week.
Another FOY for Philadelphia, but unlike the Prothonotary (which was seen by many people over the course of a few days), this was only seen by me at that time. Another birder helped try to relocate it, but it was gone. I barely had enough time to get three shots off before it flew. Luckily two turned out.