When we returned from our trip to Portland, we realized that Spring had arrived in Ohio. The weather was nice, the daffodils were in full swing, and we were ready to do some birding. My original plan for the year was to go to the Biggest Week in American Birding and see all the warblers along Lake Erie but alas, soccer practices, work schedules and other social outings got in my way. Next year maybe I will book early. Plan B: see if I can find some migrating warblers in our own woods.
One of our first nights back, Jonathan went out trying to get a photo of our resident Cooper’s Hawk. They were no where around it seems but he came in and said he thought he had seen a new warbler. I checked out the photo on the camera and then went out to see if he was still around. In fact there were several of them flitting about in the trees in the front yard. They were very small and gray, acting like warblers flitting about in the trees catching insects. We watched for a good while and got a few photos. It was hard to get a good look at their color because they were pretty high up. I asked Jonathan whether he thought they looked more blue, or more gray. “I’d have to go with Blue-gray,” he said! It didn’t sound too helpful, but we both agreed it was the best we could do.
I went back inside to check my field-guide. There was nothing in the warblers that looked promising as this bird had absolutely no yellow on it and no real facial markings and was not any of the warblers that lack yellow. Hmmmm.
I started working my way back through the book, and after only a few pages, came upon a picture that looked just right- gray back, white belly, white eye-ring. What else could it be but a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher? After double checking the photos we had, I confirmed the I.D. Sometimes bird names do make sense! And a lovely little lifer at that.
About a week later, I was checking the woods behind the feeders in the backyard, scanning to see if the gnatcatcher was back there or anyone else of interest. Sure enough there seemed to be some warbler action flitting about in the trees. Over the next several days, several different warblers made an appearance and all my housework was temporarily forgotten! The first one I saw turned out to be a Chestnut-sided Warbler. There were several of these in the woods, but they were not a lifer as I had seen these in Costa Rica in January, but was a new bird for me in the U.S.
Among the Chestnut-sideds was one lonely Nashville Warbler.
Later on there were several of these Black-throated Green Warblers. Now, there’s a mouthful. These and the Nashville, were both lifers!
It’s always exciting to see a “new” bird in your own backyard, so this was getting pretty exciting! The next morning I got up and was immediately on the lookout, but the birds were too fast for me. I saw two new warblers before I even had a chance to get the camera. Oh No! Later on Jonathan and I were able to get photos of the Palm Warbler
but I will never forget the one that got away. A Prothonotary Warbler made its way past my feeders that morning, quite low to the ground and I was able to get good views of it for about a minute or two but sadly, no pictures and I never saw him again, (so far!) Oh my! He was the brightest neon orange-yellow that I had ever seen on a bird.