It been two years to the day since my introduction to birding. And what a day it was.....
May 21 2008. My birding mentor Mr. Science (Gary) had called the night before to suggest the weather (sunny and calm) would be conducive to some serious birding, well, I just couldn't say no. It was my first summer of real birding, We headed out early, west to Albert Lea and a state park called Myre-Big Island.
Throughout the entire area were bike and hiking trails heading through prairie, marshland and a big maple-basswood forest.It was here along the willow and brush covered lake shoreline that we were literally engulfed by warblers. They were too fast and elusive to do any effective photography with my little "cheapo" camera so I concentrated on identifying (with the pros help) as many species as possible. Here is what just one small part of the shoreline produced in less that two hours.
Warblers: Canada, Palm, Blackburnian, Yellow-Throated, Wilson's, BlackPoll, Myrtle, American Redstart, Magnolia, Yellow, Black & White and Ovenbird.
Later as we returned to our car, cutting through the heart of the forest, we came upon a vernal pond where both Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes were located. This area also produced a Great-Crested-Flycatcher.
What a morning!
Yesterday, two years later to the date, we returned to the same venue. This time the results weren’t so promising as we didn’t see a single warbler along the lakeshore. High above in the forest canopy an occasional flycatcher or vireo was to be heard but not seen. An early spring had the maples and basswood fully leafed out much to our chagrin. Later, we hiked a trail thru more open savanna like country. Here we encountered a number of prairie birds and more than 20 Yellow Warblers, but they were the only warblers to be seen. Many people are reporting on the local birding listservs this spring, a huge dearth of warblers here in southern Minnesota. Various theories and explanations usually follow. But truth to tell, nobody really knows for sure what is going on or why. As a long time fisherman, I usually told my fishing buddies when we got "skunked," you should have been here last week. I guess the moral on this occasion would be "you shoulda been here two years ago."