For the Birds: Just a little more patience

Photo by Chris Bosak – A yellow-rumped warbler perches on a branch in New England, spring 2022.

It was a classic early spring walk.

Expectations were high to see a lot of migrants, but those expectations did not match the calendar. Mid-April can be a tough time for birdwatchers. We know the migrants are coming any day, and we have waited so long that the anticipation gets the better of our waning patience. It’s like the feeling children get on December 22 and 23. The decorations and tree have been up for weeks already, but it’s still not time to celebrate.

This is not to say it wasn’t a fruitful walk. I saw a handful of migrants including my first warblers of the season. But instead of dozens of species and 100s of individual birds, as we will get in a few weeks, it was more like a few species and about a dozen individuals.

It was a good warm-up to the upcoming peak of spring migration. Let’s put it that way.

A palm warbler flitted over the small pond and landed on an overhanging branch. It pumped its tail as palm warblers do before taking off for another perch nearby. I’m pretty sure palm warblers were the last warblers I photographed in the fall and now they were the first to be photographed this spring. They are definitely one of our more hearty warbler species.

A male yellow-rumped “Myrtle” warbler tried his hand at fly-catching over the pond as well. He turned to display the namesake yellow patch between his wings at the top of his tail. Two other male yellow-rumped warblers hunted in the same area.

A ruby-crowned kinglet entered the scene and flashed its red patch on the top of its head. The hyper little bird flitted from branch to branch, resting no more than a few seconds on each perch. All told, I saw four kinglets on the walk, all ruby-crowned.

Another small bird burst onto the scene. It landed on the trunk of a tree and started methodically climbing up, searching the crevices of the bark for morsels. The brown creeper kept climbing until it was almost out of sight before it flew down to the bottom of a nearby tree trunk before ascending that tree as well. I watched it repeat that pattern about three times before moving on.

Other than a lone female mallard and two Canada geese, one of which was sitting on a nest, that was about it for this walk.

There were several other signs of springs as well. Painted turtles covered nearly every log and a few green frogs jumped into the water as I strolled the edge of the pond. The turtles were surprisingly brave as they stood their ground on the logs as I walked by. Often, turtles retreat to the water at the first sign of someone approaching.

The warblers are coming; indeed some have arrived already. The masses will follow soon and color our woods with yellow, blue, green and orange. Just a little more patience. 

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