4/16/2022 - 4/17/2022
After getting back from vacation, the first thing I wanted to do was to get back out birding. Well, I wanted to, but our flight got in late. We did not get home and in bed until after 2 AM. So, I slept in on Friday. Saturday, though! Saturday and Sunday were birding days.
I had set an alarm, but I was awake a half hour before it went off. I was still really tired, but I willed myself out of bed and hopped in the car. I was going to go someplace I had never been before. Prothonotary Warbler had been reported at Bean Blossom Nature Preserve. I had heard good things about the place and wanted to check it out.
It was dark and cloudy when I arrived; even though it was an hour after sunrise. I hoped for the best and hit the trail anyway. Since I had not been there before, I did not really know where to go. Luckily, I ran into a couple local birders, and they assured me I was on the right path. I hit the loop and started walking. I went to the right, which was the way I thought they said to go, and walked for quite a while without seeing much. I eventually ran into another birder I know, and he also assured me I was on the right path. I just was going around the long way.
In short, I eventually got to a birdier area. Pockets of Yellow-rumped Warbler were roaming around at eye-level. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were wheezing up in the tree tops. Ruby-crowned Kinglets were singing their cuckoo clock-like song from amongst the fallen trees around the boardwalk. The warblers and gnatcatchers would feign interest in some pishing, but they quickly went back to looking for bugs. I walked on a little further and eventually came to a small bridge. Here, I heard a Prothonotary singing its sweet-sweet-sweet song. It was very distant, though. A birding group came by, and we all marveled a bit at the eye-level Northern Parula and Palm Warblers feeding nearby. They would feed, disappear for a few minutes, and then return and repeat the same cycle. By now, the sun was starting to peak out, and I was getting a bit better shots. As I was pishing at the warblers, I suddenly heard something zoom right past my ear. The Prothonotary had arrived. It perched up in the sun and sang for a minute before heading down to feed. It came back through a few more time over the next hour. The sun finally broke out fully, and the day was over. The lighting was too harsh. I headed on along the trail and found out that I was probably only 100 yards from the split where I went the wrong way. Oh well. I will know better next time.
This day, I was going to be doing some birding with my brother. I had asked him if he had Easter plans, and he said yes. He planned on birding. Sounded good to me. We would be hitting some spots around Brown Co.; hoping for some early migrants. Again, I was awake before the alarm went off. It is much better this way than being shocked awake by the alarm.
We started at Yellowwood SF. It was pretty cold and very quiet that morning. We drove quite a ways before we heard any warblers. What we finally heard was the loud, clear, if a bit slurred, call of the Louisiana Waterthrush. I really like this bird. Yes, it is plain, but it has a lot of character. We got out and walked down to the stream. We wanted to cross it and realized it was too deep there. We went to another section. Too deep. So, we went back to the car and put on rubber boots. It is always good to have them handy. Water problems solved, we were able to walk up the creek and find the bird. We were never able to get overly close. It kept pushing away from us. We managed a few shots, anyway.
With Yellowwood being so quiet, we headed off to Crooked Creek. There, we had more warblers. It is hard to say we had less luck, but it felt that way. Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, and Louisiana Waterthrush were all singing in the area. While we were trying to pish some in, an early Black-and-white Warbler came by. And, that was about the extent of our luck.
Not knowing what else to do, we took off driving various back county roads. I was just slowing down to turn around when Jeff comes racing up behind me (we drove separately) and honking his horn. I rolled down my window, and he excitedly asked if I saw "that?!". I quite obviously had not. Somehow, I drove right past a foxhole with three kits bouncing around outside it. I guess I was really focused on where I was planning to turn around? We slinked back up the road, and one of the kits hung around outside. I did not have a very clear path to shoot, but I managed to get a few shots between the weeds. It will have to do. I am just happy to have seen it. So cute!! Thanks, Jeff!
We drove a bit more and finally pulled into a small lot. We were discussing options when I heard a Northern Parula call nearby. I stepped out of the car and pished at it. The bird immediately responded and landed in a flowering crab tree nearby. There was actually no getting away from this bird. We heard Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Phoebe, and a White-eyed Vireo at various areas around the lot. Wherever we went and pished, the parula would eventually show up. At one point, the bird flew up and landed on the camera strap hanging from my brother's camera. He almost got a cell shot of it before it flew off. Unfortunately, nothing else was cooperative. We birded the area a bit and then called it a day.
Spring is off to a great start. I cannot wait to see what next weekend brings!
Thanks for reading,