This Wednesday, Susan Yurkus and I led a Wednesday Morning group in anticipation of warblers and other neotropical migrants. Having just returned from Texas, I walked out the door Wednesday morning to warbler song, making me think our part of the world would be very birdy. But Susan had been on our early Wednesday “Dawn Patrol” program, and she’d discovered that it was actually pretty quiet on Plum Island. Still, hopeful, we left Joppa and pulled into parking lot #1 at Parker River National Wildlife refuge, where we enjoyed a full complement of Purple Martins. They were there to soothe us with their soft trills and bright little eyes. Two pairs of Ospreys are nesting on platforms in the North Marsh, and we observed them with interest.
The best stop of our day was at the Main Panne. There were no ducks on the water, just a rather concerning number of Mute Swans. But the thicket behind the panne was full of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Yellow Warblers, both Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, and more. (That spot was even more fun to observe later on Wednesday, when we went there on our evening walk. By then, the wind had died and the late light was highlighting a different set of migrants, including Northern Parulas, a Black-throated Green Warbler, and a Blue-headed Vireo.)
At the S-curves, the cacophony of neotropical migrants we expected did not materialize. (Maybe they’ll be there Saturday, for Bird-a-thon! Southerly, then westerly winds are forecast…) The Wardens was rather quiet for passerines too, but as we disembarked, Dave Adrienne excitedly pointed us to a Little Blue Heron that was out on the marsh. A very brownish Tree Swallow, probably born last year, brought a feather for the nest of his (?) mate, for a moment fooling us into thinking a Northern Rough-winged Swallow was nesting out there. But there was that bit of iridescent blue starting to come in.
Hellcat was a bit more interesting, as there was a duck ;). A grebe in North Pool that we expected from an earlier report had evidently vamoosed. But Yellow Warblers were singing in our favorite copse of trees by the bathrooms, and a female Baltimore Oriole was around, waiting, we imagined, for the super-bright male we named “Champ” last year.
It really was just a trickle of migrants on this stretch of coast this week, though there really may be a chance that will change tonight. Here’s wishing you a great Bird-a-thon, or whatever you will do this weekend. In case you bypass the email messages I send to announce this report, I invite you to see Joppa’s new video, and to support our Bird-a-thon effort to make all those beautiful things keeping happening.
Canada Goose (8) – pairs at various locations.
Mute Swan (6) – Main Panne .
American Black Duck (1) – North Pool.
Wild Turkey (2) – 1, PI Airport; 1, S-curves.
Mourning Dove – common.
Killdeer (4) – 2, Main Panne; 2, Bill Forward Pool.
Greater Yellowlegs (6) – pannes and Wardens.
Willet – common.
Lesser Yellowlegs (18) – various.
Herring Gull – common.
Great Black-backed Gull (4) – North Marsh.
Double-crested Cormorant – common.
Great Blue Heron (2) – North Marsh.
Great Egret (20) – various.
Snowy Egret (1) – South Pannes.
Little Blue Heron (1) – North of Wardens.
Osprey (8) – 4, North Marsh; 3, off of Hellcat; 1, Pines Trail platform.
Northern Harrier (3) – 2, North Marsh; 1, Bill Forward Pool.
Red-tailed Hawk (2) – 1, Joppa Flats; 1, S-curves.
Hairy Woodpecker (1) – S-curves.
Northern Flicker (1) – Dunes Trail swamp.
American Kestrel (1) – Dunes Trail flyover.
Blue Jay (7) – Migrating past parking lot #1.
Purple Martin (15) – parking lot #1.
Tree Swallow – common.
Barn Swallow (25) – some migrating north, others at Wardens setting up shop.
Black-capped Chickadee (3) – 1, parking lot #1; 2, Hellcat.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1) – Hellcat.
American Robin – common.
Gray Catbird (6) – various.
Brown Thrasher (1) – singing in thicket south of Parking lot #1.
Northern Mockingbird (2) – various.
European Starling – common.
House Sparrow – common.
House Finch (1) – Visitor Center.
Purple Finch (1) – Hellcat.
American Goldfinch – common.
Black-and-white Warbler (1) – S-curves.
Common Yellowthroat (2) – 1, S-curves; 1, Hellcat.
Northern Parula (1) S-curves.
Yellow Warbler (8) – various.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (12) – 10, Main Panne thicket; 2, Hellcat.
Eastern Towhee – common.
Savannah Sparrow (1) – Hellcat.
Song Sparrow – common.
Red-winged Blackbird – common.
Common Grackle – common.
Brown-headed Cowbird (1) – Hellcat.
Orchard Oriole (2) 1, Main Panne thicket; 1, Hellcat.
Baltimore Oriole (2) – 1, Main Panne thicket; 1, Hellcat.
Additional birds Wednesday Evening:
Northern Parula (8) – Main Panne Thicket.
Blue-headed Vireo (1) – Main Panne Thicket.
Black-throated Green Warbler (1) – Main Panne Thicket.