Sunrise Bird Walk – Saturday Sept 19

21 09 2009
Nashville Warbler - Luke Tiller

Nashville Warbler - Luke Tiller

A wonderful mornings warblering at Greenwich Audubon’s Quaker Ridge site as part of the early festivities for their Hawkwatch Festival weekend. I have been on site for a month now and Saturday was by far and away the most productive morning bird wise. As I chatted to Brian O’Toole in the car park as the sun slowly rose there was an abundance of activity and I started to get that buzz of excitement one feels when you know that a good morning of birding lies ahead.

As I picked up my group, Brian called ahead and said that he had already found an abundance of activity in the orchard area and we hot-footed it in his direction. Along the way though we were soon waylaid as we started to trip over warbler activity. We soon had a Black-and-white Warbler working the trunk of a nearby apple tree and more birds were flitting through the early morning light towards us: brilliantly green (and super cute) Chestnut-sided Warblers flitted, Redstarts – all flashing tails and tumbling aerobatics as well as Black-throated Greens aplenty bedecked the trees.

Then our first ID challenge, a very muted Blackburnian Warbler – no garish orange throat on this bird, but rather a subtle wash the distinctive face pattern the giveaway clue. More birds to be seen and more Blackburnians, a surprising number in fact from fairly brilliant males to the more delicately patterned birds mentioned above. In total we guesstimated that there were probably a half dozen Blackburnians there – probably a high count for me in a days migrant birding anywhere!  There were more ID challenges ahead: a drab first winter female Pine Warbler, almost a colorless dingy brown and then a much sought after Philadelphia Vireo (photographed by Benjamin Van Doren here) along with a closely related but much more pedestrian (in the rareness stakes) Warbling. Here we had a little time to dissect the difference in both structure and plumage. The Philadelphia’s dark lores and distinctly yellow throat both tell tell signs as well as it’s more compact frame (a good article on Vireo ID here).

More birds streamed through: Nashville Warbler, Scarlet Tanagers, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-pewee. The leaders marveling at the amazing abundance of birds as much as the participants. As time rolled on the birds slowly dispersed and by 9:30am just a few individuals lingered – I guess that’s why Gina called the company Sunrise Birding – it’s birding at it’s best!

Bird Species from the Day:

15 Warbler Species comprising 200+ individuals: Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Black-Throated Blue Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart.

Other Highlights: Philadelphia Vireo and Red-breasted Nuthatch as well as common neotropical migrants like Scarlet Tanager and Red-eyed Vireo.

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