Monday, April 29, 2013

Palm Warbler--Bird #84

Spring migration has begun in earnest. My eBird email is loaded with reports of warblers and wading birds. We have an outing planned in May to head up to Tawas State Park for a weekend of birding, and I am hoping to make two trips this week to area hot spots to see what I can add to my list.

Closer to home--on our own five acres, actually--we are seeing summer residents return nearly every day. Just this morning Lori spotted a Baltimore oriole on the balcony. I had been thinking right before then that it was about time to put our new oriole feeder out, which I did after the sighting, with fruit jelly (no high fructose corn syrup crap for our birds!) and a sliced organic orange. That sounds so yummy I might go out for a nibble myself!

We've been keeping a list ever since we moved here in 2006, noting the first-time species as well as the regulars. We've been doing a New Year's Day count for three years now, to get the list started with the winter residents, who I would otherwise forget to write down each year. We've been right around 55 species for the past several years, and have logged 83 total species--these include birds that we see on the property, hear on or near the property, or fly over the the property. As long as our feet are on our five acres and we are certain of its ID, it counts.  As the years go by it's harder and harder to log new species, but as we have been doing some restoration work here I am hoping to attract a wider variety birds.

Saturday morning around 7:30 I was walking the dogs along the trail, and I happened to notice a small brownish bird in the front meadow, gleaning insects from last year's wild bergamot stalks. This is not behavior common to any birds we normally see here. I also noticed it's tail bobbed up and down a lot. I stopped in my tracks and held the dogs back, squinting in the dim dawn light to try to make it out. I thought I saw a rusty cap and yellow bib, and knew right away it was a palm warbler. I ran back to the house to get my camera, leaving the dogs perplexed as to why we hadn't finished our walk.

Male palm warbler on wild bergamot stalks.

I have photographed this bird before, both here in Michigan and in Florida--I got some great shots of a female at my grandma's house just this past January (see the post here). But this was a first for our home, and I was very excited to be able to log species #84!

What a poser!

He was at least 30 feet away, so I am really pleased to have been able to get a handful of decent shots at that distance. These are cropped quite a bit.

He was flitting from stalk to stalk, snatching spiders from the undersides of the dry flower heads.

Mmmm, breakfast!

Down the hatch!

He was so quick about his business it was hard to keep up!

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