Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Thursday, May 10, 2012

April: a Month in Migration

So far of all the years I've been birding (eight this August), I must admit that this year has been one of the most exciting bird-wise. I have gained 8 definite lifebirds, plus 2 unverified lifers in the first five months. April was pretty awesome for migration! I recorded 31 year-ticks and attained 2 definite lifers and 2 unverified lifers.
The month started off with a bang, as on the 2nd I traveled with my family to Columbia, South Carolina to pick up some German New Hampshire Red chickens. Since we were in the area, we stopped by at Congaree National Park to look for migrants. It was mid-day so we didn't find as much as I'd like, but I managed to locate my lifer Prothonotary Warbler, plus 7 FOY birds. I had thought I had found my lifer Prairie Warbler, but since I didn't really have any positive evidence (it was heard-only), I had to leave that one as unverified. At Congaree I also photographed my lifers Zabulon Skipper and Harvester.

It took me a while to find this Prothonotary Warbler, even though he was singing his heart out!
The next six days didn't hail anything fantastic, no year-ticks, just the usual Cardinals and Mockingbirds around the yard, but on the 7th I took a birding trip to Phinizy Swamp Nature Park in Augusta to see if I could find anything real nice. I had five FOY birds, but nothing more fantastic than the Osprey, one of my favorite birds. The next day, I went with my family to visit my grandparents, who live out in the countryside of Hephzibah. I gained three nice year-birds: Orchard Oriole, Eastern Meadowlark, and Red-headed Woodpecker, which put my yearlist at 106.
For the next week, I only had one year-tick (Great Crested Flycatcher, which I was quite happy to have back in the area), but on the 16th I had a highly successful day in the yard, starting with my second unverified lifer, the Worm-eating Warbler, calling from a dense area of underbrush. I attained three other yearbirds, including another favorite from the yard, the Gray Catbird and the next day I was surprised by a Painted Bunting chilling in one of my trees, a migrant I wasn't expecting for another month. The next two days didn't produce much except my FOY Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, but on the 20th, I was more than happy to find my 8th lifer of the year: a Cape May Warbler that decided to pop up by my window as I was writing an essay, something I wasn't expecting at all. And likewise, a few days later, I randomly found my second-ever Black-throated Blue Warbler at my aunt's house.

Lucky I had my camera with me

This wasn't the end of it, though. The month still had ten days left, and I was determined to find more birds. Unfortunately, I didn't find anymore lifers until May, but throughout the next nine days I found my FOY Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Chuck-Will's-Widow (heard only, of course), and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. On the last day of the month, the thirtieth, I was ready for May and Bobolinks, being pretty satisfied with what I had seen in April, but there was one more surprise for me yet. As I do every Sunday, I went to my friend's house to hang out, but this week was different. Everywhere in the pecan trees there were migrants! My friend Matt and I spotted tons Butterbutts (which along with "pishing", Matt was very fond of), a couple Cape May Warblers, Northern Parulas, Common Yellowthroat, Red-eyed Vireo, Palm Warbler, and my first look at an Acadian Flycatcher (only heard them before), another new year-tick (putting my yearlist at 122).

So far, May has been pretty successful as well, but I'll be writing a whole post on that soon, so stay tuned. Thanks for reading and good birding!

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