Lorance Creek Natural Area 4/3/13

Today around two o’clock I went out to Lorance Creek NA.  Before getting there I was running possible bird scenarios in my mind.  In these scenarios I encountered Prothonotary Warblers or Wood Thrush or Blue-headed Vireos.  When I got there and got out I realized that this wasn’t going to be the best birding day I’ve ever had for the wind was blowing and it was beginning to rain; the temperature was about 48 degrees.  I saw a Blue Jay, Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Phoebe from the parking lot but heard none of the usual songs, or any vocalizations for that matter.

As I moved into the trail the silence seemed to settle in.  I rounded the corner and started walking alongside the water and the activity picked up.  Chickadees and Yellow-rumps foraged among the trees and leaf litter.  Blue-gray Gnatcatchers foraged among the new buds of trees.  A couple Pine Warblers sang from pine trees.  Among some bramble near the boardwalk a White-throated Sparrow foraged from safety and a Winter Wren called from out on the water.

On the boardwalk, the various shrub-like plants were budding.  Foraging among these buds were Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Creepers, Gnatcatchers, Goldfinches, and droves of Warblers.  Most of these warblers were Yellow-rumped, including a leucistic one, but there were a couple that were different.  With the naked eye I could pick out the ones that were different so I trained my binoculars on those and was surprised at what I found.  Among the Yellow-rumped Warblers were also Yellow-throated and Black-throated Green Warblers.  The Black-throated Green Warbler was a First of the Season (FOS).  These seemed earlier than usual but I have a theory that these warblers migrate earlier than our other migrant warblers (i.e. Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Wilson’s, Yellow, etc.).  I move down the boardwalk, following the hoard of small songbirds.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

I stopped at a platform that is over the main channel of the stream.  There, the songbirds dispersed among the different plants.  I watched one of the Yellow-throats scale up a nearby tree like a Creeper foraging.  This was one of the best looks I’ve had at a Yellow-throated Warbler.  I heard a hollow “smock”  call coming up the channel towards me.  I figured this was the contact call of a Louisiana Waterthrush but I wasn’t sure so I played its song off of my phone.  This was a mistake.  Although I got good pictures and sound recordings, this bird sang for as long as I was there at least.  I was listening for the song of the Black-throated Green but could hardly hear anything over the Waterthrush and a singing Carolina Wren.

Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

As I left the boardwalk I could hear Hermit Thrush calling and saw Downy Woodpeckers flying from tree to tree.  While one the trail I stopped shortly after the boardwalk to take some pictures.  My warbler hoard had relocated and was joined by a couple of Titmice and White-breasted Nuthatches.  I glimpsed something large flying through the woods and looked up in time to see two Pileated Woodpeckers.  They were flying from tree to tree but every time I tried to take a picture they left the tree I was trained on.  I sat and watched them as they flew out of view;  very graceful and very magnificent.  Shortly after watching the two Pileateds I heard a Cooper’s Hawk calling from nearby.  This raptor’s call sent all the songbirds into a brief pause of alarm.  I never saw the hawk but it was interesting to hear it.  As I moved on I heard more Thrush and some Bluebirds.  I saw more Gnatcatchers, Black-throated Greens, Creepers, Yellow-throats, and Kinglets.  I also saw, and heard, a couple Black-and-white Warblers.

Louisiana Waterthrush singing

Louisiana Waterthrush singing

Here’s what I saw:

  • Wood Duck
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • American Crow
  • Blue Jay
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Carolina Wren
  • Winter Wren
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Louisiana Waterthrush
  • PIne Warbler
  • Yellow-throated Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Eastern Towhee
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Pine Siskin
  • American Goldfinch
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