Monday, September 2, 2013

Some nice sightings for a rainy day!

Young Magnolia Warbler?? Prairie!
It was 71 degrees and very cloudy - looked like rain was imminent. The peewees called from the JCC woods. I was only there for a few minutes when it started pouring. Jonathan pulled up beside me as I sat in the car waiting it out and he took off with raincoat etc., undeterred.

I ended up leaving three times because the rain would start and then stop and finally at about 8:30, it finally stopped for good. I stuck it out because I kept seeing glimpses of the most interesting looking birds and luckily for me, Ian showed up about an hour later and confirmed most of my sightings.

I saw the bird pictured above in the lower and upper gardens, but the one in the lower had more yellow on top. After looking at the Sibley book several times and going over it with Ian, we decided it must be a young magnolia warbler but if anyone has other ideas, please let me know.

Donna's fabulous zinnias!
The lower gardens had other semi-mystery birds that turned out to be 1. a pine warbler, and 2. a young
yellow warbler. There seemed to be several American redstarts in various stages of age and coloration. A few common yellowthroats were out and about as well as soggy mourning doves, lots of song sparrows, catbirds, cardinals, goldfinches, a flicker, cedar waxwings, robins, blue jays and a Carolina wren calling in the distance.

There were lots of titmice and chickadees in a tree heading up to the upper gardens. Saw many of our regulars, a couple of house wrens, an eastern phoebe, several more redstarts, a common yellowthroat and the warbler pictured above. At this point, I was joined by Ian who pointed out a female hummer whizzing by. Saw a strange looking sparrow that was very pale. Ian had seen some young chipping sparrows, so we thought that may be what I had seen as well.

The pond yielded nothing but a lone female mallard and the river was dead quiet. A walk through the woods behind the JCC was equally quiet save for a couple of peewees and a white breasted nuthatch crawling up and down a tree trunk.


  1. Wow, what a great day and lots of the confusing Fall warblers (and sparrows?). I can never figure out when rain is going to make birds more active (pent up feeding need?) vs. hunker down. Or maybe Nahanton is just better than Hammond Pond for warblers. Can't wait till I can get a real chunk of time for birding.

    About your warbler, I'm not convinced that it is a Magnolia Warblers... what do you think of the possibility of a Prairie Warbler? In addition to the dark flank streaking this bird also has the dark line on the face below the eye, and the small streak going the opposite direction on the neck. Also the wing-bars seem a little week for a Magnolia and there is more white / light-gray on the face than I would expect. Your picture does a really good job of catching so many field marks. Do you have any more pictures or this one in a higher resolution? Anyway a fun ID challenge non-the-less.

  2. Matt, I kept looking at the picture of the prairie warbler too and sort of discounted it because it would be pretty unusual but that can be a mistake. I do have a high res file of it although it's no clearer than this picture. Hmmm.....

  3. Matt is right: this is a Prairie Warbler. The photo makes the eye ring look whiter than you'd expect in a Prairie. I don't know what that signifies - maybe just a first year male. Magnolias don't show the dark eyeline or the "bag" under the eye, and have pronounced wingbars.

    My records show a Prairie Warbler at Nahanton Park on Sept 15, 1999. Good find, Suzette!

  4. Oh I'm so glad you guys agree on the Prairie because that's what I originally thought and talked myself out of it. Also glad to know it's possible since you saw one in 1999, although that was quite a while ago, eh? Guess they don't come to often!

  5. You know, for some reason I thought I remembered that Haynes said he had seen a Prairie this spring... but that was one of the reasons I thought Prairie wasn't impossible. Haynes has clearly corrected my faulty memory, so I searched the blog and eBird and in addition to Haynes' there are sightings from 9/1997, 5/2010, 9/2012. So possible but very uncommon and September seems to be a good time. A Prairie Warbler would be a lifer for me!

  6. Well Matt, that is good to know. You're a good detective!