Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Invisible Warbler

The weather was picture perfect this past weekend. The temperatures were in the seventies and plenty of sunshine coming our way. I made a visit to Devil's Hopyard in East Haddam in hopes of finding a Cerulean Warbler. I had a brief glimpse of one during a visit to East Rock Park in New Haven. The view was limited enough that I decided it didn't qualify to make it on my life list. There is an excellent book about where to look for birds in this state called Finding Birds In Connecticut. It gave me some ideas about where to search for the Cerulean Warbler within this park.

I walked the red trail working my way through the woods at a pace so slow that turtles were passing me. I did not encounter as many species of birds as Iexpected. Red-eyed Vireos, Wood Thrushes, and Ovenbirds seemed to be around in good numbers. I discovered that I could draw in a Red-eyed Vireo by making a kissing sound. I had one pop up on a branch right next to me but somehow managed not to get a decent photo. Most of the thrushes and ovenbirds that I saw were skulking around piles of branch debris or hiding within the shadows of trees. I had more luck birding by ear than by eye. Maybe I should have tried birding by nose. Do you know what I like about this park though? It doesn't seem to get overly hot or buggy here even in the summer.
There were a few Worm-eating Warblers in the area. They seem to like these type of rocky slopes. I had one nice view of one just across the stream. It was flying from one bush to another picking some sort of bugs off of the back leaves. The bird was never more than four feet from ground level.
It wasn't until I was about to call it quits for the day that I heard it. "It" was the sound of a Cerulean Warbler. I could hear their song but could not seem to locate them. It finally wandered off to a different area or maybe it just stayed silent. I had one of those sore throats that makes it painful to swallow and it sapped me of my energy. I decided to come back to the exact same area the following morning. When Sunday morning came, I was right at the same location at 7am sharp. I could hear Black-throated Green Warblers in the background but there was no sign of the Cerulean. I found a relatively flat rock that offered a nice view of the river. It was covered with lichens which gave me an idea. I stretched out on the rock and laid flat on my back. It really was surprisingly comfortable and I was able to look up into the trees without having to worry about a stiff neck. After about half an hour , I started to hear Cerulean Warblers again. I waited patiently hoping that one of these birds would come into view. It never happened. I walked down to the river and could hear them so clearly. They seemed to be so close but I wasn't even able to detect movement. It was very frustrating! I stayed in the area for an hour but never even caught a single glimpse of one. I saw a report from a birder on listserver about numerous ceruleans seen over at Hartman Park in Lyme. Using the information in this report would have been like copying someone else's homework. I wanted to find one on my own. I can be kind of stubborn that way but that's part of the fun. This species is now officially on my most wanted species list.
On the way out, I came across another shy warbler singing it's song. It was a Black and White Warbler. I didn't get a glimpse of that one either so here's a photo of one during a visit to Portland Reservoir.
I made a quick stop over at Machimoudus Park on my way home. Machimoudus is a reliable place to find Orchard Orioles like these in the Spring and Summer. With the color of it's breast, I could imagine someone might confuse one with a Robin.

I also had a little adventure trying to get a photo of a Hooded Warbler at Hurd Park. I was trying to take a photo without disturbing the activity of the bird which is an uncommon breeding species in Connecticut. It was flying to different trees but always managed to find a location that had me looking into the sun. The best I could manage was a very brief clip of this Hooded Warbler singing it's song. If you look very closely you can get a brief glimpse of its black hood.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Larry I just loved this post. Your writing style made me feel like I was walking right along beside you. Too bad about the Cerulian, but you'll find one- on your own! The video is cool, I can see the hood. Your Orchar Oriole phot is great too. That is one pretty bird!

Hey- I walk at a snail's pace when birding too!

Larry said...

Lynne-I will look forward to doing some more slow-paced birding pretty soon.It's hard to take your time when so many great birds are coming through.

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, Devil's Hopyard is one of my old haunts but that was before I started agressively birding. Perhaps I will visit when I am there this summer and see what I can see. If I see someone walking at a snails pace, I'll know it is you! By the way, I've nominated your for a Blogs That Make My Day award. Find the info here: http://coronadetucson.blogspot.com/2008/05/blogging-award-from-texas-travelers.html

Jayne said...

Like Lynne said, you always seem to be able to take us along with you, and we can feel your anticipation and excitement Larry. :c)

Mary said...

Larry, you are too determined - you will see your Cerulian! Wow, to relax flat on a rock in such a beautiful place must be heaven, even if only for an hour.

You see the best birds. I'm so impressed with the Black and White Warblers. I've seen a few on other blogs and think they're sort of elegant.

Yes, I could see the black hood. I really enjoyed the video!

Sorry I've been away from blog reading so much. I'm trying to get back into the groove thing.

Mary C said...

I agree with everyone else that you certainly find the most interesting birds. And where you bird and the birds you hear, birding by ear is certainly rewarding. Thanks for sharing, Larry.

Larry said...

Kathiebirds-I plan to make another visit to Devil's Hopyard in the summer because it seems to stay on the cooler side.Thanks for the award!I will go check it out.

Jayne-Well I'm glad that I was able to convey that-thanks.

Mary-I haven't been keeping up with blog reading either. I try to but I can't seem to catch up before my night is done.

MaryC-Birding by ear is such a help once you are able to learn the songs of a decent amount of species.-I'm still working on it.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see your still out there hunting down those elusive birds in CT. Cerulean Warbler was on my list too until a few weeks ago when I finally got them. Funny thing is that they nest not too far from me but I never new it.

Texas Travelers said...

You have a great Birding (and Nature) Blog. I arrived here via Sycamore Canyon. I am surprised that I have not run across you blog before now. It's great. I have only been blogging for a little over 3 months. I started as a matter of sharing with friends and family. It has grown out of all proportion.

I am adding you to my "Nature Blogs" section. I'll try to visit regularly, but won't always comment. So much to see and do, and so little time.

I'll be back soon and try to read a lot more of your posts.

Have a great weekend,
Troy and Martha

Anonymous said...


What a wonderful story!

You have a simular mindset as mine.... You want it, and you are not satisfied until you see it.

I spent 3 years in a quest to see a Hudsonian Godwit, and last fall by chance, I observered and photographed one for over an hour.

Keep up the great works you have here!


Lana Gramlich said...

That top picture is awesome. I want to have a picnic there. :)

Larry said...

Pa-birder-Good to hear from you Vern.-I should be able to get a good look at one sooner or latter.Their are certain places that they nest in CT.-Just one of those birds that has eluded me thus far.

Texas Travelers-Thanks-I really do appreciate that.-I just took a look at you blog and noticed the scenic photos.-I'll add you to my blogroll as well.

John briggs-Thanks John-There are certain birds that for whatever reason I target in on. I don't do it all the time but it is nice to have a personal challenge now and then. It wouldn't be as fun if it was easy.

lana-There is probably some software that would allow you to set up a "virtual" picnic there.Actually, it is a really nice place for a picnic.

Punam said...

I know virtually nothing about birds, but I just know one thing, that they fascinate me to no end.

Your blog is a delight to read, and maybe you can check out my post about two bird species that visited my backyard this summer. I am unable to identify one of them. If I happen to take a pic, I may post it, and maybe you can help me identify it.

troutbirder said...

The mood you create inspires me to be a more determined birder. Being a newbie I've been skimming the cream off the top!

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

A great post, Larry. You hit all of my old hangouts! My friend used to own land adjacent to the Hopyard, so I spent my summers there swimming and hiking in the woods. Even camped out in the woods a few times. I think it's been an amazing spring for warblers, so hopefully you'll get to see lots more.

Larry said...

Punam-Thank you-and I'll be glad to try to identify your bird.-If I don't someone else will.Thanks for visiting my blog.

troutbirder-I'm glad that I was able to give you some inspirtation-Now go find those birds!

Sandpiper-It is a great place. I have camped there in the past and plan to visit it again during the summer.

Unknown said...

Wonderful video Larry. I love seeing the birds singing, "live" as it were.