Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Butterflies And Hooded Warblers

I started out Sunday morning with a visit to George Dudley Seymour Park in East Hampton. It was kind of quiet over there , but I did see a Red-breasted Nuthatch. I also saw a raptor deep in the woods, but never positively identified it. After leaving the wooded portion of the park, I searched the fields that border the river.I had a nice view of a mature Bald eagle flying directly overhead. The fields seemed surprisingly quiet. I just wasn't feeling it, and I didn't want to fake it. I decided to cut things short, and head back to the truck. On the way back, I did come across a couple of neat butterflies. That one on the stick really blends in. I found my little butterfly book, so I will look them up tonight. Do you know what kind of butterflies are in the photos?
I was in my truck supposedly heading back home. -(I say supposedly, because I rarely make it home on my first attempt. I usually have one of those imaginary light bulbs go off over my head as I suddenly think of another place to look for birds). As I was driving, it occurred to me that I had not made one visit to nearby Hurd Park this year. Three years ago, I had seen my first and only Hooded Warblers there. I wondered if there was any chance that I might see them again in the same area. I felt it was very unlikely, but not impossible.

I was able to locate the same trail that I had walked three years ago. It was a sunny morning, and already nearing 10 am by now. I noticed right away, that the birds seemed to be surprisingly vocal in this area. The woodpeckers and Pewee were the loudest, but I was tuning in to the what sounded like some sort of Warbler in the distance. I came to a small open area along the wooded path. I heard the sound the warbler again. I was a bit excited, because I knew i was not one of the more common warbler songs that I was familiar with. I caught a glimpse of a small bird landing on the outer limb of a tree. Just as I was getting ready to get a look at the bird, an older gentleman with a barking dog approached me. We chatted a bit about his dog which had gray hairs but was only a puppy. So I lost the opportunity to see this bird for the moment. As I walked further along the path, I heard the same warbler song -only now, it was coming from 3 different locations at the same time!

It was on my way back, that I got a great look at a beautiful male Hooded Warbler. The male is easy to identify, because no other warbler has a completely black hooded appearance. After it flew off, I had a look at a second male Hooded Warbler. Although I hadn't actually seen the warblers singing, I was sure it must have been the Hooded Warblers. I tried to get pictures or film one, but it they always moved before I could snap a picture. I decided to record the singing on my camera with the built in microphone before returning home.

When I returned home, I reported my findings to an open birding discussion line we have in Connecticut. I described what I had seen, and mentioned how I had heard 3 of them singing. Shortly after I sent my report in, I felt an unsettling feeling came over me.-What if the warblers I heard singing weren't the Hoodeds? What if they were another species that I just hadn't seen?-It wouldn't be the first time I made a mistake in identifying something because I jumped to conclusions. I decided to check out the audio that I recorded and see if I could confirm the identity of the singer(s).

The audio turned out to be pretty good. The song was similar to a Hooded Warbler recording that I compared it to---but it wasn't an exact match. I decided to send the audio clip out to a couple of birders including Vern from
Big Spring Birds. Between Vern's birding contacts and mine, I was able to get a definitive response. The audio was indeed, that of a Hooded Warbler. It was however, one of it's alternate songs. All was well again. Thanks to Vern and Paul C. for helping me out! Unfortunately, I couldn't figure how to upload an audio clip to blogger. Overall, it was an interesting learning experience for me.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I think you mentioned in an earlier post that use audio recording of bird songs and I've been making an effort to do the same. I feel much more confident in making an id when I can use both visual and audio characteristics. (thanks Larry!) It's really neat that with Vern's input you were able to confirm your id. Congrats!!

Can't help with the butterflies. Neither are in my field guide.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
Common Wood Nymph and looks like a Spicebush Swallowtail that's kind of worn out and missing its wing tails.

That was cool you got to see and hear the hooded warblers and identified them by song and sight. There's so much variation in the orioles never sound much like the recordings I have. I'm glad you have such good resources to confirm your IDs.

Mary said...


You continue to call yourself a novice birder. You are not - I am! You must live in a great area for birding. My eyes are always open for a bald eagle or anything worth seeing - and the plentiful species you see. I would need to get out more often but spare time is my problem.

I love hearing about your finds. As far as the audio, you'll figure it out. I haven't posted a video yet but the time is coming... :o)

Larry said...

Lynne-I don't always do audio, bit it works out well when you need it.

Ruthiej-thanks-I figured the spicebush was one I'd seen beforre-just looks different this time of year I guess.

Mary-sorry-the novice was meant to rib Vern-not you.-I'm sure you'll make time one of these days.

Anonymous said...

I warned you! TO ALL THE READERS OF THIS BLOG LARRY IS NO LONGER A "NOVICE" BIRDER (as if you didn't know that already). Some of the adjectives I could use to describe Larry I can't put in print as this is a family blog, but what about an ASPIRING birder or what I called him in a recent e-mail,a "BIRDING STUD" But "Novice" is a clear misrepresentation of the truth.
Vern :)

Larry said...

IVern-I might consider changing the word.-aspiring is not bad-I'd like a more humble word if possible.

Jochen said...

Wow, Hooded Warbler!
I have only ever really seen one in May 2005 and there were 2 singing here in Ann Arbor in June, but despite going there twice and trying to catch a glimpse I never managed to see them!

Cool adventure, Larry, pretty cool!

Anonymous said...

The top one is an easy one, Common Wood-Nymph. The bottom butterfly is a little harder and my first guess would have been Pipevine but looking closer (hard to say with parts missing) it does appear that this is a Spicebush Swallowtail!

Anonymous said...

Birding certainly can be a humbling experience in many ways no matter how experienced one becomes. Humbling in the sense no matter how much you learn there is always more. Humbled in the presence of nature, the beauty of the earth, and if you believe like I do, the wonder of the Creator who formed them. So maybe being a "Humble Birder" would, if you don't mind the pun, fit the bill.

Patrice said...

That is amazing. You are amazing. I am in awe.

Larry said...

Jochen-I hope the Hooded Warblers Cross your path once again!

Monarch-I'm starting to realize that butterfly i.d.'s aren't that hard as ong as I'm not to lazy to look them up but it's more fun when you guys make the call.

Vern-Very well put! I share with you those sentiments.

Patrice-I'm glad you enjoyed my post-thank you!

Cathy said...

You heard the Hooded in Hurd Park:0)

I like the sound of that!

You're so lucky to be hearing this bird this time of year and so many! When I listen to him for the first time in the spring - the thing that I listen for is sort of a sassy/wolf-whistle quality. Does that make any sense to you?

Larry said...

Cathy-Very clever-That's where I Hurd it all right-Now if Hurd Park was in the hood-that would have been something too.
You're song description makes sense.-They are very uncommon around here though-My main clue would be that they don't sound like most of the ones that I know-only a couple are close.