Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Like standing in the parakeet section at Woolworth's

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Cleveland's birthplace was our second stop of the day. We ventured out early (relatively, for me; late for Ivan) to check the progress of spring migration on Garret Mountain.

You'll recall our previous visit to Garret, where we saw but a few birds and even fewer birders. This time could not be more different. The parking lot, while not full by a stretch, held a healthy number of cars sporting various environmental/birding stickers and/or Conserve Wildlife plates. On the way in, we'd already passed a few clusters of optics-sporting strollers, all pointed in the same direction, so it was clear that it would be a productive morning.

This is a yellow throated warbler, which, while yellow like
many of the warblers we saw, is not one of the warblers
we saw.
Indeed, it was. Not far from the park road, near the large pond, we were treated to four different species of warblers - Black and White, Palm, Yellow-Rumped and Pine. Given that they'd likely just flown in, they were treating the trees and brush like the proverbial Turnpike rest area and attacking the food court with gusto. (All together now:  "I just flew in from Central America, and boy are my wings tired!") So focused were they on finding good munchies that they allowed us to get close enough for a good view without binoculars. It was, no joke, reminiscent of the old parakeet aisles at Woolworth's. All that was needed was the display of Hartz Mountain bird food. Much to my regret, I didn't have my camera on hand to capture the scene; these are totally adorable, tiny birds. After a winter of spotting mostly dull-colored species, it was nice to see flashes of bright yellow flitting around the budding greenery.

After this experience I truly understood why birders flock (no pun intended) to Garret in the spring, as a relatively short stroll netted us, conservatively, about a dozen species. In all, with just about two hours of scouting, Ivan picked up something like 30 different kinds of birds, and it's early in the season. You can imagine what kind of results a birder could get in a day later in the spring.

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