Sunday, April 21, 2013

The F-Word

It is a word that is thrown around a lot during migration. One of the most exciting times during migration, spring or fall, is the fallout! On 4/20, I drove to St. George Island State Park on the gulf coast of Florida hoping that the cold front would drop many migrants. I did not realize the park opened at 8am, and I got to the gate at 7:40am. As I waited outside my car in the stiff, cold north wind, hundreds of migrants were pouring in and heading straight for the youth camp area of the island. The majority of the birds were buntings (both Indigo and Painted), but I also saw Orioles, Tanagers, Bobolinks, and warblers all being put down by the front. This was incredible to watch, literally hundreds of migrants falling from the sky.

Finally, at 8am, I paid my entrance fee and rushed to the youth camp. Birds were everywhere! You couldn't hold your binoculars up without seeing birds. One of the first birds I was able to photograph was a cooperative Eastern Wood-Pewee that looked a little miserable.

Eastern Wood-Pewee
For the next six hours I worked the youth camp, coming up with new species every round I made. It was obvious more and more birds were arriving as the day went on. The most common warblers were Yellow and Black-and-white. The Yellows were very bright!

Yellow Warbler
Another new face for me this year was Blackpoll Warbler. They were around in decent number, although I never got one to pose nicely. A good looking warbler!

Blackpoll Warbler
Orioles, Tanagers and Buntings were also dropped by the front. Hard to miss the red of the male Scarlet Tanager amongst the green leaves!

Scarlet Tanager
Orchard Orioles were chattering and chasing each other around. This made them easy to locate.

Orchard Oriole
I saw singles of both Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrush, if I have them identified correctly. They can be a little tricky.

Gray-cheeked Thrush (broken, pale eyering, no warm tones on face, and a gray cheek)

Swainson's Thrush (full eyering, warm tones on face)
If anyone thinks otherwise, I'd love to hear it.

Probably the best looking show-stopper went to this male Magnolia Warbler. I forgot just how sexy this warbler is!

Magnolia Warbler
I took a lot of pictures but won't post them all here. More will be posted to the Flickr site.

It was a very productive day and one of my best days of birding in a long time. I hope I can catch another good day at St. George before I leave.

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