I once had a run in with a Kirtland’s Warbler, a debacle which is described in this post. My first visit to the famed migration hotspot, Magee Marsh, and I just happened to be an hour away on a canoe when hundreds of people were getting face melting looks at a cooperative Kirtland’s Warbler. By the time I made it back to the boardwalk, the bird had disappeared, but later than evening I was lucky enough to hear a male singing but it never popped into view. Now, I am a ear-birding guy, I get as much enjoyment out of hearing a bird as I do seeing it. So I added Kirtland’s Warbler to my life list. I mean, there was absolutely no mistaking what I was hearing, it was one of the birdsongs I most wanted to hear. Needless to say, this left me wanting more time with a Kirtland’s Warbler.
I was pretty excited and surprised to get a text alert on Sunday morning that Andy Guthrie found a Kirtland’s Warbler at Hamlin Beach SP. But I had already agreed to cover someones shift from 12-4pm at Wild Birds Unlimited. This didn’t give me enough time to get there and back before work, and meant that I wouldn’t be able to get out until 6:30pm. Reports keep coming in during the morning, but then came the mid-afternoon and there was radio-silence. No updates either way on the listserv, Facebook, text alert…nothing. I decided to go for it anyways, but at this pout there had been no updates for over 3 hours.
For the entire 2 hour drive, I was pretty certain I was going to dip on the bird. Pulling in to the described parking lot, I didn’t see any birders where I knew the bird had been earlier. Now I was pretty sure I was going to dip really hard. Luckily I immediately ran into Matt and Livia from Ithaca who told me that the bird had possibly just been refound. Wow, talk about timing. We started walking down the direction they pointed and it wasn’t long before we saw a couple people up ahead hurdling across a couple of the guardrails on the entrance ramps entering the state park. At this point I needed to make sure I saw the bird. I sprinted.
The Kirtland’s Warbler spent some time steadily moving eastward while we tried to keep an eye on it, until it settled into a small grove of trees, slowly moving in and out of them, but often out in great view of us all. I had left my scope back in the car and after getting maybe 30 minutes of great looks, I quickly headed back and pulled it out so I could do some digiscoping. It was a long walk and by the time I got back, the Kirtland’s Warbler was hiding in a bush, under an overpass. It was getting late at this point and we thought perhaps this was the bush where it would spend the night, but couldn’t see where it was.
Using the scope, I scanned the bush and was eventually able to find it peaking out, a feat made easier by the lemony-yellow throat that was also showing. It soon started moving around again and I was finally able to get my photographic proof of the bird. I am sure it pales in comparison to the big lens the other folks were using when it was out in good sun, but there is no denying I saw the bird!