Monday, April 21, 2008

Warbler Arrivals

I suspected that Sunday would be the good warbler day this week, and when, at 8am, I got four separate text messages (two from Peter Dorosh, two from Shane Blodgett), I knew I was right. The birds had moved overnight, and when I met Peter and Mary Eyster in Prospect Park things looked good. Lots of movement, little warblers flitting in the trees, birdsong - everything a birder hopes for. We started at the Vale and soon had the Worm Eating Warbler that Peter and Shane had texted me olive, retiring bird, feeding in the leaf litter (they also frequently probe dead hanging leaves for insects). As we moved through the park we had a nice diversity of birds, including Black and White Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Northern Parula, Northern Waterthrush, Palm and Pine Warblers, and the ubiquitous Yellow Rumped Warblers. We also had Wood Thrush and House Wren, both first-of-year birds for me. It's a joy to see the park come to life with these birds after a winter's hibernation. The color and diversity of the warblers and their flitty movements seem inherently optimistic.

Around 3pm, after six hours at Prospect, I went to Owl's Head Park near the Verazanno Bridge, on another texted tip from Shane Blodgett. This park is on the south shore of Brooklyn, so it can act as a first-landfall for birds heading north across the New York City harbor. Thanks to his excellent directions, I soon had Hooded and Prarie Warblers in the same tree. Both were beautiful, but the Hooded is exceptionally stunning with it's rich yellow body and stark black hood. I got good photos of both--the Prarie was as close as three feet away from me at times, which is a nice change from the usual look at a warbler: far up in a tall tree through the leaves.

After Owl's Head I made stops at Drier Offerman and then Jamaica Bay as the light faded. Nothing new for me at either, but there's no better way to end a day than a walk around the West Pond at Jamaica Bay. You quickly forget you're in New York City, and with birds all around, Glossy Ibis flying overhead, terns over the water, herons in the marshes, it's easy to feel grateful and at peace.

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