Thursday, June 2, 2011

Birds on the Beach Pt. 2

Before I left for the Tawas Point Birding Festival I was flipping through a bird book, taking a look at the warblers. Good grief, I had no idea how many of the damn things there are! I was signed up for a bus tour through the Kirtland's Warbler Management Area, but was not really all that excited about seeing one. Because of its endangered status, and because it breeds almost exclusively in Michigan, we hear about it A LOT. But as I was flipping pages I saw a little bird called a Black and White Warbler. How cute! And better yet, I didn't even know such a thing existed, so I got all excited at the prospect of seeing one, and I mentioned this to Lisa and Lori. I had done the same last spring before one my Florida trips, announcing that I wanted to see a Loggerhead Shrike, then saw one in the parking lot at Pelican Island.

I should say that I'd like to see a winning lottery ticket, because as I was making my way off the beach and back into the trees, who did I see but this male Black and White Warbler.

I very nearly squealed, and wrestled my camera and tripod into place. It was starting to get pretty dark and I worried about not having enough light, but I managed a handful of fuzzy shots.

Much like a nuthatch or creeper, this little warbler works the trunks of trees, gleaning insects from the nooks and crannies. Quick and agile it was a challenge keeping up with him.

I watched until he flew away, then did a little dance.

Soon after a Yellow-rumped Warbler appeared, showing off his bold markings. I want to pinch his cheeks!

Not nearly so interested in having his picture taken, this American Redstart, another of the warbler family, wouldn't come out of the brush, so this was the best I could do.

The sun was nearly set and the light getting quite dim on this mostly overcast night so I made my way back to the paved trail. Of course movement caught my eye and I stopped to watch this bird, nearly double the size of the warblers but looking, to me, very warbler like. Yellow-breasted Chat? I thought excitedly. Thank goodness I have a camera to record what I see, because this isn't a chat-they have black on their faces. So what the heck...? Not until I got home and had time to study this bird did I realize it was a female Scarlet Tanager. I had seen one once before, here at home, and it took me over a month to identify it. Perhaps next time I'll know her on sight!

The sun made one last appearance before it slipped below the horizon, and shone on the lighthouse. I headed back to the van, amazed and exhausted by the fabulous day. I photographed 29 birds that day, 23 different species, three of which were "life" birds. Not too shabby!

Next: Kirtland's Warbler and more!

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