Friday, May 8, 2009

Firethroat! - 06 May 2009

I took a vacation day Wednesday and headed south to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Crane Creek in Ohio. My destination was the famed boardwalk that attracts warblers and birders every spring.

As I entered the BSBO I immediately heard the chorus of Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Magnolia Warblers, Wood Thrush and Song Sparrows. Heading east toward the Lake Erie the marsh opened up and greeted me with Tree Swallows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Great Blue Herons, and American Coot. Swamp Sparrows were trilling in the distance. Near the boardwalk parking lot three Snowy Egrets feeding among a half-dozen Great Egrets. One bird showed bright red lores while its mates sported their normal bright yellow lores. I stopped the car and grabbed several digiscoped images in the early morning sunrise and managed a couple of low-light keepers.

I pulled into the parking lot next to the boardwalk and found only two cars parked there. As I entered the wooded swamp I immediately found a Rusty Blackbird foraging in the dark, wet, woodland. I took several images with the flash and extender and managed several keepers despite the low light conditions. Overhead I heard Nashville, Black-throated Green, and Black-and-White Warblers.

A Blackpoll Warbler called briefly, but distinctly. As I searched the trees I found several House Wrens and a Gray Catbird.

Heading down one of the side trails I heard deafening calls from nearby Yellow Warblers, and more House Wrens. Looking up I saw a handsome Western Kingbird, but it flew off before I could get a clear shot. An Ovenbird appeared and made up for the missed Kingbird. A few moments later I spotted a Swamp Sparrow, Warbling Vireo, Black-crowned Night Heron, Hermit Thrush, and a tail-bobbing Northern Waterthrush. Out in the marsh the calls of a Blue-winged Teal distracted me from a drake Wood Duck that was perched high in a tree.

As I began running into other birders I found a pair of Ruby-crowned Kinglets foraging just a few feet away. A pair of Baltimore Orioles kept several of us entertained, while a Red-breasted Nuthatch appeared next to me. Someone pointed out a Chestnut-sided Warbler, but I only heard it. I did manage a few pics of a Yellow-rumped Warbler before moving on. A short distance later I found a singing American Redstart just a few feet away from a brightly-colored Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Just on the other side of the railings a group of sparrows were feeding in an opening in the woods: White-throated, White-crowned, and a single Lincoln's Sparrow! Just a few feet up the trail a House Wren appeared from an invisible hole in a tree limb and provided some nice pics from up close.

I then found a group of birders gathered around a photographer who had found a Whipporwill roosting in the thickets. The bird was perched on a stick in the open, but was invisible to all who looked for it. It took me over ten minutes to finally see it, so I put my scope on it so others could see. An hour later, after the last of a wave of birders passed by, I grabbed the scope and continued on my way.

Just up ahead another group of birders were enjoying nice looks at a Blackburnian Warbler. Since I had been jonesing for a chance to photograph one of these "Firethroats" I camped out with a number of people and waited for the bird to drop low enough into view to photograph. I spent more than an hour and several hundred frames trying to get a clean exposure of the bird that kept to a distance of 20 - 30 feet. Finally, it dropped down to about 15 feet and allowed a few pics to be taken. Magnificent bird! During the entire time I neglected other nice birds that were nearby: Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Least Flycatcher, and Common Yellowthroat.

It was now near noon and I decided to head back toward Monroe, since I wanted to bird Pt. Mouillee in the afternoon. So I packed up my stuff and found my car amid hundreds of other cars in the now-filled parking lot. As I left I counted no less than 8 Snowy Egrets lining the ditches on either side of the road. Among them was the bird in its breeding red.

I hate to see this place this weekend, when the next wave of migrants is expected to arrive...


Kevin said...

Great Warbler catches, Jerry I feel like banging my head against the wall when Digiscoping these guys .

I am still trying to figiure out a good pattern with these guys for pics.


Kevin said...

Jerry I ahd some shots at the old Firethroat but proven to be a tough act to follow of coarse I felt like banging my head against the wall in frustration.

Great Work!


Matt said...

Nice shots as always; I especially like the watercolor-stylized blackburnians.

Your mystery thrush is acutally an ovenbird. The arrow-marked flanks are way to crisply patterned for either thrush. If you look closely you can get a sense of the crown streaks as well.


dAwN said...

Impressive list and impressive digiscoping!
Firethroat..great name!

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