Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Warblers are here

The first day of May brought in the first real wave of warblers to all of Connecticut. I visited our Birdcraft Sanctuary on April 30, May 1, and May 2. It is one of the best locations in Connecticut to find a variety of warblers, as has been mentioned in previous entries. The 6-acre sanctuary has a pond and well-maintained trails. The small size of the sanctuary means most people end up getting exceptionally close and prolonged views of some common, infrequent, and even rare birds. It is situated between residential neighborhoods and Interstate 95, and when viewed coming up the coast or after crossing Long Island Sound, it is obviously a very tempting place for birds to stop after a night of flight.

The evening of April 29 featured primarily northwest winds. Some birds were able to sneak through as southwest winds prevailed all the way to New York City. While the Central Park and points south had 15-20 species of warblers, Connecticut started a bit slower. On the afternoon of the 30th Birdcraft held:
  • 1 Blue-winged Warbler
  • 1 Northern Parula
  • ~25 Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 4 Black-throated Green Warbler
  • 2 Palm Warbler
  • 5 Black-and-white Warbler
  • 1 Ovenbird
  • 1 Northern Waterthrush
This 8-warbler start was easily one of the best tallies in the state. Note that Birdcraft ends up landing birds such as the Blue-winged Warbler and Ovenbird, a scrub-shrub denizen and mature forest dweller, respectively, despite the lack of habitat there. You never know what you will find, and nearly any species is possible at our migrant trap.

Black-and-white Warbler

The night of the 30th opened up heavy migration across the region. My stop during the afternoon of May 1 yielded:

  • 1 Nashville Warbler
  • ~15 Northern Parula
  • 2 Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • 1 Magnolia Warbler
  • 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • ~10 Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 4 Black-throated Green Warbler
  • 15+ Black-and-white Warbler
  • 1 Ovenbird
  • 3 Northern Waterthrush
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
  • 1 Canada Warbler
12 warbler species in one location, all counted during the less active afternoon hours, meant that once again Birdcraft ended up as one of the best spots in the state. Connecticut's likely best spot, East Rock Park in New Haven, tallied 14 warblers with many groups of people passing through during prime morning hours. I can almost guarantee I had much better views at Birdcraft as well, like with this Chestnut-sided Warbler:

One of the prolonged views of a Chestnut-sided Warbler

Heavy migration continued the night of May 1, but the birds ended up spread across the landscape on May 2. The totals from a quick stop late that morning at Birdcraft were:
  • 5 Northern Parula
  • 2 Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • 3 Black-and-white Warbler
  • 1 American Redstart
  • 2 Northern Waterthrush
  • 1 Common Yellowthroat
Even on a "slow day", you will likely find at least 6 or 8 warblers there. I am sure there were a couple more I did not find in my brief visit. During these slower days, you will still get exceptional views of the birds that are there. I watched Northern Waterthrush foraging along the trails, mere feet in front of me. They would, as their name implies, often stay around the edges of the pond, even hopping on the footbridge that goes over it.

Northern Waterthrush

I would never try to deter anyone from visiting his or her favorite spring hot spot, but I do encourage anyone who has never visited Birdcraft to stop by. My suggestion would be to look carefully in the areas around the pond, and to go towards the back of the sanctuary while looking high in the oak trees. These trees are favored especially by Northern Parula, Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, Blue-winged, Black-and-white, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, Bay-breasted - nearly any warbler can be found in them at varying times. The areas around the pond frequently yield Nashville, Canada, Black-throated Blue, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Palm, American Redstart, Wilson's, and more.

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

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