Waterfowl has always been my “thing.” Many happy, youthful days spent at duck ponds started me on this path and when I began watching birds, my love of ducks (along with other water birds) grew — they are large, somewhat slow-moving, sport great colors, and have easy dispositions for observation. Plus, they like the water, and so do I.
Warblers on the other hand are small, fast, and frustrating. Beautiful, yes, but trying to spot them — let alone identify! — made me write off these species to woodland folks who didn’t mind terrible neck strain when looking into treetops.
Yet, since working at Queens Botanical Garden for nearly four years, I’ve slowly improved at my identification of other birds besides those found near water (though I’d hardly call myself on expert on those!). This spring, I thought it might be neat to try my hand at more warblers and other songsters.
I expected frustration, but in terms of identification. Instead, my schedule was the source of angst, leaving me little time to get out for a proper walk.
Driving to work last Tuesday, I reflected on this predicament and felt that day’s lunchtime deserved a walk. Accompanied by friend and workmate, Annette, we strode off to find adventure in QBG’s main garden area.
Arriving at the Woodland Garden’s diminutive, man-made waterfall, we were greeted by a small group of birders and bird photographers. Oh joy! Spring migration was in full swing and birds were aplenty! Our new friends shared sightings and photos. They identified a few new species for our urban oasis, bringing the QBG bird list to 60.
Annette nearly had to drag me back to the office that afternoon. Forgoing errands and yoga I returned that evening and was rewarded. Gray Catbirds were nearly perching on my lens! A Common Yellowthroat bathed in front of me several times! An a Northern Parula — my first — darted out of the shrubs for an instant!
All incredible and reported from the folks at lunchtime. And then, in a quick flash, the bird list was raised to 61 — a Yellow Warbler!
Feeling that the day before couldn’t be beat, Annette and I headed back to the same location for another short lunchtime walk. Almost immediately, Ol’ Eagle Eyes, as I will begin to call her, spotted movement in a Magnolia. Several quick and lousy photos later, we were able to identify it as a Cape May Warbler — uncommon according to my Sibley’s Guide but here it was, just off Main Street in Queens!
The bounty continued that evening with more sightings of Northern Parula, American Goldfinch, Common Yellowthroat, Gray Catbird, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Black-and-white Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Yellow Warbler and my first Red-eyed Vireo.
And then, with the last room on my card, I photographed my first baby American Robin of the season.