Date: 5/22/20 9:22 am
From: Jady <jadyconroy...>
Subject: Warblers and other colorful joys
Hello birding friends,
I live in northern York County and primarily bird there. I wanted to share some experiences my husband and I have had recently. We have been walking in the campground at Gifford Pinchot SP a lot this spring. It has been a wonderful oasis for birding since it has been closed for camping and we have had full access to explore all of the campsites in pursuit of what we see or hear. (No need to fear freaking out campers by aiming binoculars in what may seem to be their direction! 😳)
Yesterday we visited again for our last opportunity before the campground reopened. First, we saw a Woodthrush nabbing a worm along the path we walked to reach the group camping area. As we walked, we were amazed to hear a pair or Barred Owls calling. This was the third time we’ve heard them there in daylight hours. I heard American Redstarts in the newly-dense vegetation, and other buzzy and trilling things. I know some of the warbler songs but need to learn more. As we rounded the bend, one singer stood out and we pursued it, heads cranked back, mouths open, trying to pin it down. Finally, there! I saw movement to go with the sound and we were able to discern a beautiful Chestnut-sided Warbler. He continued to call and we also heard an insistent, clear, loud, rising whistle. I knew I had heard it before but doubted that it would be what I suspected.... Then my husband spotted that telltale bright yellow bird with darker wings! A Prothonotary Warbler was singing quite close to us in the dense, wet woods we were facing! As we watched, we saw him disappear into a cavity in a dead tree. He was in there for quite a while and we realized that it could be an ideal nest site for a pair of these gorgeous birds. We have seen them several times this year in a busier part of the park, but this secluded cove would be perfect for a breeding pair. How exciting!
Next we kept hearing a White-eyed Vireo and soon spotted him and a mate in the brushy area in front of us. His call was quite varied, compared to Merlin’s suggestions, but the squeaky, insistent key remained the same. Least and Great Crested Flycatchers joined their voices to the symphony and Northern Parulas and Scarlet Tanagers chimed in.
Continuing around the loop, we heard and saw Blackpolls, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and even Bay-breasted Warblers! American Redstarts were flitting through the shrubbery, defying my attempts to get any focused photos. It’s like they are playing a constant game of hot potato... 😆
As we walked back to the parking lot after a very pleasant two and a half hours of birding, we were serenaded by Northern Cardinals, Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Eastern Bluebirds and Chipping Sparrows. Finally, we heard the rising, stair-step call of the Prairie Warbler in his usual spot near the big oak tree by the parking lot. He has been very reliable there!
We wonder if the migrating birds at Pinchot have been especially numerous this year or if we have seen so many because it has been so peaceful there without campers. In any event, it has certainly proved to be a wonderful distraction to socially isolate amid such beautiful surroundings, tallying up the return of our beloved migrants.
I wish you all good birding!
Jady Conroy
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