Sunday, May 20, 2018

Scarlet Tanager - 19 May 2018

While standing on the deck this morning I heard the quiet sound of a Wilson's Warbler coming from the woods out back. This prompted me to grab the camera and bins and take a walk through the muddy field to the woods to see what was about.

I found a bright Chestnut-sided Warbler foraging high in the oaks; too high to photograph. A Red-eyed Vireo began singing nearby, as did a Warbling Vireo.

Skies were overcast, and rain started falling. A Wilson's Warbler popped into view at eye level, but when I raised the camera to fire I found that my batteries were dead. Dead. I grabbed a spare battery, and it was dead. Luckily, a third battery had juice, so I was back in business. The Wilson's Warbler was gone, but a nearby Magnolia Warbler appeared for ever so briefly. No pics.

I walked back toward the Chestnut-sided Warbler after slogging through quiet trails. Overhead, I began to hear the burry song of a Scarlet Tanager. Sure enough, a bright male appeared high atop the canopy well out of photography range.

With the rain now falling steadily, I decided to stick around with the hopes that it might drop lower in the canopy and at least provide a record pic, or 700.  It bounced around the tree tops for a good 20 minutes and worked its way toward the edge of the woods, then finally appeared low enough for a few pics.

It then flew across the trail into a huge oak tree growing in the middle of the path. A few pics later it flew deeper into the woods along the grassy path. I followed it to another oak, and finally had a clear view of bright orange-red male. Between bursts of song, and the occasional "Chick-burr", it posed long enough for photos in the low light. Though the pics would be noisy, they were sharp, and I was impressed how the Nikon D500 handled the reds.

Of interest is that this male is a bright orange-red, and not the deep scarlet red seen in most adult males. Another feature not normally seen in these birds was bright red epaulettes appearing on the wings, which are normally all-black.

It would rain for the rest of the day. Heavily. We recorded almost 2" by evening. A fountain appeared in the front lawn as rainwater from the downspouts funneled under the drive and into the drain in the grass. Luckily, the basement remains dry!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Beautiful Ending - 13 May 2018

Sunday marked the "official" ending of the Biggest Week in Birding. After another night of heavy rains the day brought heavy clouds and temperatures struggling to break 50F. Rain was still falling in NW Ohio, and wouldn't let up until after 10 am. I asked Robin if she'd be interested in making one last trip to Ohio and she jumped at the chance. So, we drove down and reached the east end of the Boardwalk at about 10:30 am.

We encountered birds almost immediately. At eye level! Magnolia Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Yellow Warblers, and Cape May Warblers!

I ran into Jack and Janet Volker just as we entered the boardwalk, and they reported a Black-throated Gray Warbler (female) found at the west entrance.  I was heading that way, but decided that I couldn't pass up the chance at the beautiful birds presenting themselves just feet away. Crowds were heavy, but the birds were heavier. It would take almost an hour to reach the west end, but I didn't care. The lighting and birds were spectacular. It was also great to run into such folks as Cherise Charron, Jeff Bueking, and Linda Rockwell.

I would miss seeing the Black-throated Gray Warbler, but I didn't mind. I was enjoying the views of birds too close to photograph. One woman held up an iPhone camera and had a Chestnut-sided Warbler land on it! I was actually too close to photograph one individual, myself. So, I watched it forage just inches away.

Northern Parula!

Prothonotary Warbler!

Black-throated Green Warbler!


Palm Warbler!

Black-throated Blue Warbler! Females outnumbered males 10:1. I couldn't get a lock on them as they were moving too fast, though.

Cape May Warblers were everywhere. Lots of females, as well. They came in flocks and chased other birds foraging at eye level.

Even a Philadelphia Vireo!

 Other birds seen included Veery, Ovenbird, Lincoln's Sparrow and Swamp Sparrow. Gray Catbirds continued. The Screech Owl was rebound, as was the Woodcock.

Despite the festival being over, good birds will continue to move through the area for the next few weeks, so hopefully I can get back down there before leaves get too heavy.

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