Monday, April 27, 2009

April 25 & 26: They're back!

Since my last visit to Herrick's Cove (see April 20 post) failed to find any of the early warblers, it was only a matter of time, shorter than longer, before they would make their debut. Well, what a difference a few days of summer-like weather (high temperatures in the 70s and even 80s) in April no less can make to encourage migrants to keep pushing north. Saturday morning the trees near the boat launch parking lot were alive with Yellow-rumped Warblers along with a few Palms and one Pine Warbler. Birds tallied that morning included: Canada Goose, 13; Wood Duck, 2; Mallard, 4; Green-winged Teal, 26; Common Merganser, 15; Great Blue Heron, 1; Osprey, 1; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1; Greater Yellowlegs, 3; Lesser Yellowlegs, 1; Dunlin, 1; Mourning Dove, 2; Belted Kingfisher, 3; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 1; Downy Woodpecker, 2; Northern Flicker, 3; Eastern Phoebe, 2; Blue-headed Vireo, 1; Blue Jay, 5; American Crow, 6; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 1; Black-capped Chickadee, 6; Tufted Titmouse, 1; American Robin, 4; Yellow-rumped Warbler, 12+; Pine Warbler, 1; Palm Warbler, 6; Eastern Towhee, 1; Song Sparrow, 19; Swamp Sparrow, 2; White-throated Sparrow, 3; Dark-eyed Junco, 4; Northern Cardinal, 2; Red-winged Blackbird, many; Common Grackle, 3; Brown-headed Cowbird, 1; American Goldfinch, 3. Species observed by other birders I encountered that morning, but not by me, included a Green Heron and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. The Eurasian Green-winged Teal was not seen, even though fair numbers of the American subspecies remained. In all 37 species (161+ individuals) were observed and/or heard over the span of 3 hours.

A return visit Sunday morning pointed out how quickly the scene can change over night. Two hours of birding produced only 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 1 Palm Warbler and 1 Pine Warbler, and the shorebirds were nowhere to be seen. Also, most of the teal appeared to have moved out and were replaced by approximately a dozen Wood Ducks, and 2 Double-crested Cormorants were spotted out on the Connecticut River. For me the highlight of Herrick's Cove on Sunday was a Brown Thrasher which was digiscoped (photo above). The total species count was down by 10 from the previous day, and the total individual bird count was also substantially down.

After leaving Herrick's Cove Eva and I headed north on Route 5 to check out the nesting Bald Eagles off Upper Meadows Road thinking that the eggs if any had been layed may be about ready to hatch. We saw no eagle activity at all, so a follow-up visit may be necessary. However, while there the first Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Black-and-white Warbler of the year for me were heard. And to complete the morning, a Louisiana Waterthrush was heard singing from the North Branch of the Black River in Reading a mile or two from our home. I could have continued all day checking out my favorite birding haunts, but a long list of unfinished spring home chores is another reality of the season.

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