Sunday, September 26, 2010

Search for the Blue-winged Warbler

Although we'd planned on staying local today, we read reports yesterday of a Blue-winged Warbler sighted at A.D. Barnes Park in Miami. We'd first visited A.D. Barnes just a couple of weeks ago after reports of some Veeries, a Cerulean Warbler, and a Prothonotary Warbler. We managed to find the Prothonotary, but didn't have any luck with the others. Even so, this park immediately became our favorite migrant hot-spot, and well-worth the hour drive each way. 

Prothonotary Warbler from our previous trip

We parked at the nature center at about 7:30. Last time we found this area teeming with Red-eyed Vireos, as we did again this morning. Once we gave up on finding anything else of note there, we walked to the end of the nature trail to more open ground covered by large sprawling live oaks. Here we found lots of Black-throated Blue Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Prairie Warblers, Northern Parulas, and several American Redstarts.

Prairie Warbler

A little farther along, past the park's lake, we found a number adult male and female Cape May Warblers, as well as some 1st winter juveniles, and an Ovenbird. We also had our first male Baltimore Oriole, having had our first female on our first visit, two weeks earlier. As great as all the migrant activity was, we started to get nervous around 9:30 at not having seen the Blue-winged yet. We were due to volunteer at Daggerwing at noon, and still had an hour's drive ahead of us. Even while we enjoyed everything we'd seen, this was the bird that motivated us to come down, and it would have been somewhat disappointing to miss it. This species of warbler doesn't stay here, but is only passing through en route to its wintering grounds in the Caribbean and South America. If we didn't see it today, it was possible we might not see again during our time in Florida. 

Red-eyed Vireo

Black-throated Blue Warbler

male Baltimore Oriole

female Baltimore Oriole

We doubled back the way we'd come, deciding to give the park one more pass before the long drive back. We paused at some picnic tables under a dense canopy and sifted through more Red-eyed Vireos and some of the more common warblers. I caught a glimpse of yellow on the underside of a bird, and was almost ready to pass it up as another parula, but following it long enough for it to come out from behind some leaves, I was able to make out the black eye stripe just before it flew to the next tree. I pointed it out to Maureen and she confirmed the ID - we were looking at the elusive Blue-winged Warbler. We followed it for as long as we could, and then trekked back to the car feeling a bit more proud of ourselves than we might otherwise have.

Success! Blue-winged Warbler

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