They say April showers bring May flowers. We certainly received our fair share of April showers the past week. We were lucky to get a bit of a break from the rain on Saturday, so Dave and I used that opportunity to go to Palmyra Cove Nature Park. I heard that many warblers and other migrants have been flooding into the area, so I wanted to see how many we could spot. We did pretty well for 2 1/2 hours and overcast conditions: 33 bird species, 2 deer, 3 groundhogs, and turtles galore.
A few minutes into our journey we entered a meadow. We spotted a hawk soaring and wanted to see if we could get a better look. Suddenly we heard a sharp tschat call from the tall grasses and out popped our first warbler of the season: a male Common Yellowthroat! He quickly hid once realizing we were stalking him but we were able to catch a glimpse of him a few more times. Male Common Yellowthroats are pretty distinctive; they have a black face mask and their throats/chests are a yellow-olive. Female Yellowthroats are much duller and lack the black mask that the male displays. We ended up seeing a few male Yellowthroats. Many of the birds we saw during this trip were small and fast, so we tried our best when it cam to pictures. We did get to see the soaring hawk, and decided that he was a Broad-winged Hawk.
The second warbler of the day is one of my favorites: the Yellow Warbler. Remember when I talked about dream birds? The Yellow Warbler was my dream bird for awhile. I wanted to see one so badly, and finally saw my first last spring at Boundary Creek. Yellow Warblers are almost completely yellow, with breeding males sporting chestnut stripes down their chests. Throughout our entire hike we could hear them singing from the trees. Sometimes ornithologists will use mnemonic devices to help people learn birdsong, and I think the Yellow Warbler’s is very appropriate: Sweet-sweet-I-am-so-sweet! 🙂
Our next stop was the Beaver Pond. We had to walk through the forest area and on the way we saw/heard: Robins, Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadees, Northern Flickers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Brown Cowbirds, American Crows, Northern Cardinals, and Song Sparrows. A great spectacle waited for us at the Beaver Pond: tons of turtles! They were on every log and rock available. There had to be at least 70 turtles or more of different sizes and species.
At the pond there were also: Canada Geese, Mallards, Tree Swallows, a Green Heron, and a Pied-billed Grebe.
Blue-gray Gnatcatchers flitted around the trees nearby. I am still shocked that Dave managed to get a picture of one; Gnatcatcher are super fast.
We even were able to find a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nest on our way to the cove.
The last stop of the day was the Cove Trail. We weren’t able to get any good pictures because everything was far. The biggest surprise at the cove: Green-winged Teals! They are some of our Winter Waterfowl visitors and I expected them to have migrated already. They were busy waddling through the mudflats looking for food. Others found at the cove were: a Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Northern Rough-winged Swallows , Tree Swallows, and a really big Snapping Turtle.
It was starting to get windy and rain was threatening so we headed back to the car. We took a quick walk on the beach and saw some Double-crested Cormorants. When we went back to the forest part of the trail we saw an Eastern Towhee and I heard my first Gray Catbird of the season. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Gray Catbirds and I was a little disappointed that I only heard it, but I’m glad to know they are back. Overall, we had a great day greeting some of the new spring migrants. I’m looking forward to going to Amico Island and Boundary Creek soon to see some more warblers. Have you seen any warblers yet?