A few warblers today
EAST TEXAS — After a most unsatisfactory movie experience last night, I slept late and didn’t get going until almost 10. I had a long to-do list, but I happened to check the weather and see that the winds were from the northeast. The morning was cloudy and cool — not even 60. Warblers! I thought, and a few moments later, I was in the car.
I stopped first at Shroud and Bev’s apartment to check on the House Finch nestlings. They have grown considerably, their feathers are in, and their eyes are open. I don’t expect they’ll be in the nest much longer.
Dragonflies swarmed on the iron bridge road.
Cardinals, Indigo Buntings, White-eyed Vireos, Carolina Wrens, Yellow-breasted Chats and a Prothonotary Warbler sang. I caught a brief glimpse of a Yellow-throated Warbler. They are not singing anymore, I noticed; I suppose they’re busy with family responsibilities now. I was pleased to see and hear the colorful summer residents, but I was disappointed not to encounter any migrants pushing through (with the exception of two yellow-rumps).
That changed once I crossed the bridge. First, I saw two Orchard Orioles. One was a first-year male, and the other was a female. I wondered if they could be a pair. Apparently, some first-year males will attempt to breed.
As the orioles fled, I saw more movement in the low trees. Some of the birds were Indigo Buntings, and I also got quick glimpses of a bright, eye-ringed Nashville Warbler and a couple of Tennessee Warblers. Then a family of chickadees moved through. The fledglings had practically no tails, so they looked like little fuzzballs. They begged and fluttered and flew clumsily from twig to twig. The next tree held a large flock of Cedar Waxwings, and the sky was full of swallows, martins, and the occasional Black Vulture.
An Anhinga soared overhead.
Farther down, I encountered another flock of Nashville and Tennessee Warblers. A parula sang half-heartedly, and I finally saw him — white eye crescents, dark breast band, green back. A plain-faced vireo moved silently with the warblers. It was very plain — probably a Warbling Vireo, but it would have been nice to hear it sing.
A Yellow-billed Cuckoo called hollowly from the taller trees. Two Baltimore Orioles flew by. A pair of pewees darted between twigs above the path, calling occasionally, and a hummingbird or two whizzed overhead.
I saw two small Buteos soaring high. The plumage had no distinguishing marks, but the birds were molting their primaries. Sibley confirmed my suspicion: They were immature broad-wings. This discovery helped considerably in understanding Saturday’s difficulties. Most of those birds lacked any distinguishing plumage features (no dark primaries, no banded tails), but many of them were molting their flight feathers. Sometimes I forget how much I still have to learn.
Campus responsibilities pulled me slowly back toward the car. Wood Duck pairs periodically exploded out of the water-filled ditches, squealing their annoyance. Catbirds cried from the low growth. Another flock of warblers caught my eye. Many were Tennessees, but a beautiful female black-and-white worked the limbs and trunks, nuthatchlike. After looking at Tennessee after Tennessee, I saw a small bird drop down onto branch. Without my binocs, it looked like a chickadee, but as I raised them, I realized it was a Blackpoll Warbler — a bright male with white cheeks, streaked sides, and neon legs. That’s a pretty good find here, and he was one sharp-looking bird.
Snowy Egrets in the lake and Pine Warblers in the pines slowed me down on the way back to the car, and I was nearly late for my 1:30 appointment.