4/23/2022 - 4/24/2022
First off, I am not complaining. It just seems like every other year I am trying to remind myself that there is no way that the birds are here yet. May 1st. May 1st. It is always May 1st when the birds arrive.
Not. This. Year.
They are here. Based on the reports I am seeing online, I may have even missed a lot. I thought I did well; especially given that it is not May, yet!
After a poor night of sleep, I pried myself out of bed and headed south to bird Monroe Co. I got there about 20 minutes after sunrise, and I could already hear the birds calling. There was a very loud and close Black-and-white Warbler. There was a distant Worm-eating Warbler. I had heard Hooded Warbler on the drive in. I had high hopes. I always have high hopes. Birding is a very optimistic hobby. If you did not expect to see anything, you would not go out. You would stay home. There is always hope, though. I grabbed the camera and, filled with hope, set out to photograph some migrants.
The migrants (and even the non-migrants) were not interested in my hopes, though. I photographed 5 species for the day. 6 if you want to count the chipmunk. I mean... it is really cute.... So, what did I see?
Black-throated Green Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush *
American Redstart *
Yellow-breasted Chat *
Prairie Warbler *
Red-eyed Vireo *
Rose-breasted Grosbeak *
Scarlet Tanager *
lots of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
* = heard-only
Not a bad list for somewhat-late April. May 1st is a whole week away. A few of the heard-only, I could have seen; I just was busy trying to track down something else at the time. That is 14 species of warbler. Throw in the chat and the three species of vireo, and I think it is a great day. I stayed and shot longer than I should have. Lighting went from blocked by hills to harsh pretty quickly.
In case you wanted to see that cute chipmunk.
Sunday, I had plans. Knowing I could not go far, I headed over to Eagle's Crest to look for Henslow's Sparrow and Prairie Warbler. It did not take long to figure out I would be disappointed. Nearly the entire prairie has been burnt. The grass was short but green and vibrant. The snake guards were melted and cracked on the bluebird house poles. The Bradford Pear were standing tall and still very much alive. I guess the prairie will be hosting Grasshopper Sparrows this year. There were a number of Henslow's in an unburnt section at the far end of the prairie. With the 15 mph winds gusting upwards of 20 mph, I felt lucky to see one. There was zero chance of photographing one.
I turned my attention to Prairie Warbler. Zero luck. I did not hear a one; even in the back sections of the park that were untouched were quiet. The only warblers I found were a pair of Yellow-rumped, a Northern Parula, a Common Yellowthroat, and a Yellow-throated. There were a lot of Chipping Sparrows about, but they were very reluctant to have their picture taken. As I was attempting to pish in the Yellow-rumped Warblers, something flew right over my head and onto an open branch. The Yellow-throated Warbler had shown up; albeit pretty briefly. He had perched right where I had hoped the Yellow-rumped would flit in closer. I, of course, did not pre-focus on the branch. So, I missed a number of good shots just trying to get on the bird. Expect the worst, but prepare for the best? I am pretty sure that is backwards, but I guess I am trying to say that if you hope for something to happen, you should be prepared for it to happen. Just do not expect it to work out. Anyway, the day ended with a lot of walking and not many pics. I think the highlight might have been three Wilson's Snipe out in the wetter part of the prairie.
That covers my weekend! I have high hopes for next weekend. Fingers crossed that the weather holds out. Until then, get out there and get birding!
Thanks for reading,