Went West, Young Man: pt 3
Back on the parkway. The next overlook provided a heard-only Magnolia Warbler, the first new year bird of the day. I would have liked to see it, as Mags are one of my favorite warblers. But the best bird of the day came just further down the road. After hearing a song I wasn’t familiar with, I pulled off the side of the road, got out and immediately found a little Chestnut-side who was nearly as friendly as the first. But that wasn’t the bird I had heard. So, with my ankle still a little sensitive I walked down the road towards the mystery song. There was a BT Blue there, and I began to think that maybe what I was hearing was either the BT Blue alternate song or a gussied up Chestnut-side. I got my binoculars on a little bird in the tangles and was surprised at what was singing back at me.
It was my great warbler nemesis, a stunning male Canada Warbler. The only thing better then seeing a life bird in perfect light as it sings its heart out only 15 feet away, is to get a photo of that same bird. So there you have it to the right. What a great bird. Big for a warbler and with a great warbly song. I soon picked up a second bird just down the slope singing in response to the original. When it rains it pours I guess. If I got no other warblers the rest of the day (and spoiler alert: I didn’t), this one would make it worthwhile. Great bird, great experience.
I soon arrived at Mount Mitchell and drove to the peak. The boreal forest at the top of the mountain looks more like Canada than North Carolina. I had hoped that maybe I would run into the Red Crossbills that can be found year round up here, but no luck. I did hear the songs of both Winter Wren and Golden-crowned Kinglet which was a rare treat, and the Common Ravens were as evident as the Crows were further down the hill, but nothing else.
The Parkway was under construction south of Mitchell so I had to take a long detour down off the mountain that quickly descended 3000 feet in only 10 miles. The drive was less scenic but some trout ponds near the highway were home to a few Northern Rough-winged Swallows, the first of that species I’d seen this year. Once I refound the parkway I went south for a few miles with little luck other than a few more Chestnut-sides and BT Greens and surprisingly, another Canada, before I decided to call it a day and head home.
Only 4 new birds for the year, far fewer than I had hoped, so I’ve got my work cut out for me the next couple weeks. I should be able to find some boreal warblers around home though it won’t be as easy. I might have some time on a non-birding return trip to the mountains in a couple weeks to clean up.
As for my foot? When I got the sock off I saw it was purple and swollen like a softball and looked for all the world like an the ankle of an 80 year old with edema. And now, four days later, it’s still somewhat swollen and purple and hopefully won’t keep me out of the field this coming weekend. I already had to pass on birding the morning I came back because of the tenderness. But that’s how hard-core I am, folks, and at least I got a lifer out of it.