Monday, September 11, 2006

This Warbler doesn't live in Connecticut

I've been trying to find a Connecticut Warbler for many falls now. This funny warbler doesn't migrate through NJ in the spring. Instead, it prefers to migrate more in the interior of the US, just east of the plains. The fall is a different story. It migrates along the coast towards in South American wintering grounds. This notorious skulker usually appears in small numbers at places like Sandy Hook and Garrett Mountain. It seems that in the last week, there have been an abundance of Connecticut Warblers in NJ (or "possible" sightings as some would argue - not me).

I had my once-a-month volunteer duty at the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory (aka the book store) yesterday. Lucky for me, 4(!) Connecticuts had been seen there on Saturday. Woo-hoo! I woke up early Sunday, hoping at least one had stuck around. I ran into some friends who had the same thoughts. In fact, there were a ton of birders around. I think we all had similar thoughts. My friends had seen about 15 species of warbler by the time I got there, but no CT. We birded around for a while and we found an uncommon Yellow-bellied Flycatcher which was nice. We found several other species of warblers, but no luck on the skulker yet. I ran into my buddy Pete (who runs SHBO) and his lady friend. They too were in search of the CT Warbler. Unfortunately, my 10:00 volunteer starting time quickly approached and I was off to the book store one warbler short. I had searched every spot they were sign previously, but no luck! There were fleeting reports from other birders, but my morning was done.

The store was hopping and I made a bunch of sales and had some nice conversations. Around 11:30, a fellow birder called to report a confirmed Connecticut on a trail we had previously checked. D'oh! I'd have to wait until 3:00 and then get EXTREMELEY lucky to find the bird on the mosquito-ridden trail where it had been found. Ugh.

At lunchtime, the friends who had found the CT showed up for lunch at the center. We chatted for a moment and then I tended to some customers. A bit later I went to grab my lunch. I noticed that my friends were now standing outside staring at a small pine tree next to the building (actually, the ONLY tree next to the building). I walked to the backdoor and opened it. "THERE'S A CONNECTICUT WARBLER HERE!" shouted one of the birders. Now, you've never seen birders move this fast in your life. I bolted for my bins and the three customers and I ran out the door.

The bird had been flushed into a high patch of grass on the lawn next to the building. As we approached, it took off and landed low in a sycamore tree for us all to get amazing looks! We saw all of the field marks, especially that bold white eyering and dark gray hood. This was an adult bird. Everyone was so elated. It was just amazing that this bird appeared right next to the center. What a yard bird! The bird flew off into the distance never to be seen by our eyes again. It was one of my more memorable birding moments (and I didn't have to go out to the trail at 3:00!).


LauraHinNJ said...

Why don't fantastic birds show up outside the window on my volunteer days???


Happy for you!

Trevor said...

My jinx bird is the Glossy Ibis. Its relatively common throughout Australia and even near my home, but it has eluded me for 30 years.

I bet when I see one they will appear everywhere!

I found your blog via I and the Bird.

Patrick Belardo said...


Is that the same as our Glossy Ibis in the US? I can show you tons of them here! :)

My new jinx bird is Cape May Warbler - another bird that doesn't nest and is very uncommon in its namesake location.

Thanks for reading.

Patrick Belardo said...


I'm usually the one who misses all the good Hook birds, so I was happy to be one of the lucky ones for once!

MojoMan said...

Sometimes we get lucky when we go on a quest for a specufic bird, sometimes they just fall in our laps. Both ways of finding that special bird are exciting. Thanks for sharing your story and for stopping by and commenting on my blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to identify an owl which I have seen twice in the fall. Very large with a large wing span. Want to know if it is a Great owl and would like some information to it's nesting and if it migrates or not

Patrick Belardo said...

Hello anonymous, Great-horned Owls don't migrate but the young birds may move around when they have grown old enough to be on their own. Where are you located? Great-horned and Barred Owls are the only large, dark-colored owls you would see. Others are smaller and a Snowy Owl is unmistakable.