Back to the Farm
This past Labor Day I gave up on shorebirds and headed back to one of my old standbys, Mason Farm in Chapel Hill, to see if the land bird migration was in any way underway. While I didn’t have a blockbuster morning, what had been akin to a walk through a sauna the last two months, turned out to be a pleasant morning birding, and I even saw a few indications that the land birds are following the same trail that the shorebirds have been blazing for nearly a month now.
The regular birds looked less ratty, finally coming into their basic plumage all around me. My regular turn past the willow groves produced lots of dark-eyed juvenile White-eyed Vireos and families of super active Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. A juvenile Common Yellowthroat spoke to their breeding success this year and the Bluebirds sat on nearly every single tree, nest box, and shrub indicating that they too, had had a good year.
It was as I nearly returned to the parking lot that the best birds came out. A sharp female Chestnut-sided Warbler with yellow wingbars blazing dove into a willow, popping out in response to pishing to show perfect clean new plumage. While they change dramatically from their spring finest, the olive greens and creamy whites are pretty nice in their own right. The old adage, “For warblers in fall, go where chickadees call” sounds cheesy, but it was good advice to follow as it led me to a Blue-winged Warbler foraging in a Mulberry.
Certainly neither were new for the year, but they’re certainly an indication that “new for the year” is coming down the pike soon enough.