Saturday, May 8, 2010

What else but Birding of Course-Even in the Rain!

Alan and I headed out to Lancaster this morning with our first stop being Oxbow, and were hoping for some migrating warblers despite the rain that pelted against the windshield and the dirt path. We would continue along our way when Alan would wonder out loud "if anyone else would be there today besides us", as migration is in full swing. Alan was wondering of course because there are times when both of us question our sanity when it comes to birding as most folks don't bird during downpours and thunderstorms, but I can't help to wonder why as one can get a lot of good birds during a good old fashioned rain storm. "Maybe there will be", I say in return because after all it is May and there are birds to be seen as I think back to our field trip to Royalston for winter finches when it was 40 below zero with wind gusts and think this is rather mild in comparison.

The parking lot would be bare as we got out of the car, but we would hear tons of birds coming from every direction including Blue-gray Gnatcathers, Yellow-throated Vireos, Baltimore Orioles and American Redstarts. We would make our way along the path with our final destination being the small body of water with the bird blind because there are usually lots of warblers there so we were hoping they would be out there singing away rain and all. We would come across the wave of warblers with most of them being Yell0w-rumps and a few Yellow Warblers thrown in as well. Our binoculars would be going from tree to tree as warblers would fly at every angle into thick cover as we tried to get an id on all of them which was yet again overwhelming when there are only two people trying to id a dozen or so warblers. Suddenly I would see one land in some vegetation in the middle of the small pond and I would get my bins on it and be left speechless momentarily as the most beautiful Canada Warbler I have ever seen stared back at me in return. My breath would be caught in my chest for a moment as I marveled at its gorgeous white eye ring that contrasted beautifully against its gray head. I would get Alan on the bird too so he could confirm and it would be indeed our FOY Canada Warbler. Score!! Rain and all. We would do a little more birding and decide to head to Bolton Flats and on our way back Alan would hear a Veery doing its "Veer" song and soon enough I would recognize it too as I was a little rusty with its veer song vs its more typical one.
After that it was onto Bolton Flats for shorebirds of course as well as a chance to see the Magnolia Warbler that was reported there yesterday so we would hope our lucky streak would continue. There would be a ton of Yellow Warblers as well as American Redstarts but no Magnolia unfortunately, so we decided to console ourselves by looking at shorebirds as that always does seem to lift the spirits some. There would be quite a few shorebirds around including both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers, my FOY Least Sandpiper and a couple of Solitary Sandpipers like the one above who was having itself a little breakfast. We would be scanning the mudflats with our scopes when suddenly Alan came across a bird that warranted further investigation, so we made our way a little closer and were psyched to see it was one of three Black-bellied Plovers!
They would still not be in full breeding plumage but it didn't take away from how lovely they were to see, especially on a day as gloomy as today.
The weather conditions would make getting clear photos of the bird challenging, but we could still get really good looks at them through our scopes and Alan pointed out their behavior while feeding and how it differs from some of the other shorebirds and I would soon pick up on that so it was fascinating to watch.
We would make our way out of Bolton and I would hear a Virginia Rail as well as a Common Yellowthroat above.
Our last destination would be one of Alan's atlas blocks in hopes of one of the Nashville Warblers he has had there the past couple of years and it wouldn't take us long to see the two of them. The rain would continue to fall at this point so getting decent pictures of the bird was not possible due to both the rain and the fact that the birds didn't want to come down any lower, but I was happy to see them just the same and to hear their song of course.

All in all a fantastic day rain and all.

Take care..

1 comment:

grosbeak21117 said...

The Hampshire Bird Club trip I participated in on May 8th yielded similar results. Despite heavy rains, we savored the arrival of one wonderfully dense ball of migrants not long after our entering Gate 49 of Quabbin Reservation. The group enjoyed fine looks at Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak!

Chris Ellison


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