Documenting the Birding Adventures of Scott Whittle
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Yellow Throated Warbler
The last few days have brought in a few birds here and there, though it's been pretty slow -- the Big Push has to happen eventually, but the birds definitely do it on their own time, and the peak of migration is still a couple of weeks off. Nonetheless, there have been some good birds lately, most notably a Yellow-Throated Warbler that turned up on the eve of the 22nd. A local birder named Edith Goren had spotted the bird around noon, and Peter Dorosh texted me around 4pm. This is one of the "overshoot" warblers we've been hoping for...a bird that flew too far north in migration and wound up past it's normal breeding range. Peter and I met in the park to walk the area it had been reported, and then went around the whole lake. It was dead...barely a warbler seen anywhere, and after a while we were resigned that the bird was not going to show. We were just enjoying the weather and the walk. At about 6:30pm we were leaving the park, talking about how you have to have slow days to appreciate the good days, and how I feel like I need to find more birds on my own as opposed to chasing birds all the time, when we both spotted a streaky warbler right by the path. We had our binonculars on it when the bird turned towards us to flash a bright yellow throat, and we both exclaimed almost simulatneously "Yellow Throated Warbler!" Peter started texting local birders to alert them, and I pointed my camera and held down the high-speed shutter to make sure I got a photo. We also called Lloyd Spitalnik, who runs the MetroBirds list online. The list is dedicated to NY city area rarities only, and when it's time to call Lloyd then you know you've got something good! In all that fuss we lost track of the bird...several other birders showed up within minutes, and we all started scouring the trees to relocate it. The light was fading, and Rob Jett wisely checked the treetops that still had sun on them. Since warblers are generally insectivores, and since the bug activity would be in the last warm spots, this made sense. He found the bird again quickly, and this time we all kept our eyes on it until everyone had gotten a good look. The light finally faded, walking out of the park Peter and I recounted what had happened only a few minutes earlier in second by second playback..."I saw the streaky sides, and I was thinking 'That's either a black and white or a yellow throat' and then it turned its head and I saw the yellow and called out...", etc. , both of us aglow with the discovery, and reminded again that birding is full of surprises.
My name is Scott Whittle and I'm a professional photographer (www.scottwhittle.com). I have an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I started birding as a teenager, and then dropped it for many years. I started to bird again in 2007, and have been birding since then in Brooklyn, NY and Cape May, NJ.