Thursday, October 23, 2008

Marvels at Warblers

My mid-week birding brought me to Legg Lake in Whittier. Not by chance, but by a report of a Blackpoll Warbler sighting. When I arrived a little after 8 am, the place was discouragingly quiet.

I did a quick tour around the lake with hopes of seeing the Canvasbacks likewise reported there. Got blanked on that. Nothing of interest inhabited the lake and its surroundings. Disappointment was starting to creep in as I returned to the tree where the Blackpoll was sighted. It was also at this particular tree that a Bay-breasted Warbler was seen by a lot of people last year, including moi.

As I was resting at the picnic table, I finally noticed some movement among the leaves. Peering through my binoculars, I saw a warbler-like bird hunting for insects that looked a bit different from the Yellow-rumps that have also begun to pop out seemingly everywhere. Soon I was joined by a fellow birder/photographer, Chris Akiyoshi. When I showed him my shots, he was a bit skeptical as to the correct ID of the warbler I just saw. He did admit that it was paler than the brownish Butterbutts. Later after I uploaded my pictures to the computer that I was able to confirm that I did get a shot (although not a very good one) of the uncommon Blackpoll Warbler. It was my 85th lifer for the year 2008.
Chris and I hung around the now bustling-with-activity tree for a couple more hours. Throughout that period, we marveled at how a single tree can produce 6 species of warblers: the ubiquituous Yellow-Rumps, an Orange-crowned, a Yellow, several Black-throated Grays, a few lovely Townsends, and of course, the prized Blackpoll.

A Black-throated Gray:

Just as we were about to leave, a flock of Western Bluebirds landed at a nearby tree and stayed long enough for us to get some good shots. The term "bluebirds of happiness" proved to be true this morning.

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