Sunday, July 28, 2013

Down at the Swamp

I decided to make a short trip to Blackwell Swamp yesterday. No, my radiator isn't fixed yet... but it's a slow leak, so short trips feel safer to me than say... driving to the coast. I was having birding withdraws. I had to get somewhere.

Blackwell Swamp had an overabundance of one thing: Mosquitoes. My youngest daughter and I were magnets for them. As of right now we are covered. Luckily for me, they don't really itch... but poor Libby is miserable. I keep forgetting the DEET. Never needed it back in Ohio.

Anyways... saw the usuals. Indigo Buntings singing around every bend. Cardinals flying from one side of the road to the other. Summer Tanagers dancing in trees, loudly announcing their disapproval of my presence. Watched a family of Brown-headed Nuthatches making a racket. Spunky little birds. Heard Prothonotary Warblers singing, but oddly.. never caught a glimpse of one, which is a first since going to Blackwell Swamp.

I inched along the dirt road back to the south side of the swamp... I always keep an ear out for bird calls, and drive slowly so I can come to a stop and search for what I'm hearing.

Low and behold... I heard a call of a bird I'd been searching for since getting here: the elusive Swainson's Warbler.

No, it couldn't be! It was probably something else that sounded similar, right?

Well, the habitat was right. And it just kept singing its little heart out. So, I pulled out my phone and opened my iBird app. I played the Swainson's Warbler song and it matched. Not just matched, but perfectly matched. 

I hopped out of my van and started walking through the undergrowth. Bird still singing. It stopped once I got about twelve feet in. I started scanning the undergrowth. Then, there it was. A brief enough glimpse too short to get a photo, but long enough to see that I was, in fact, looking at a Swainson's Warbler. As soon as it appeared, it was gone. I went back to my van and waited, but didn't hear the song again. Lifer #254. Goodbye, you little dude. Godspeed!

I continued back to the swamp, pulled over and parked. So many birds chattering in the trees. Fledglings and their parents were out in full force. Downy Woodpeckers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers... and then, a large family of Eastern Wood-Pewees, one of which allowed me to take this photo:

A few Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons graced the swamp. Heard a King Rail chattering. But otherwise, nothing to see. I decided to call it a day and head home, before there wasn't an inch of skin not affected by mosquito bites.

Next week, I'm driving down to the coast and hitting Dauphin Island. It will be an all day trip, so stay tuned for a long blog post with (hopefully) lots of pictures!

Until then...
Happy birding to all of you!

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