Rainy Sunday Birding, 5/1/16

~Black-and-white Warbler on a rainy day, Sterling Forest SP, 5/1/30. This is a bird that I wasn’t able to get any photos of for years, but for some reason this year I’m getting a little bit lucky with them.~

I got a fairly early start this morning; I was headed out to hike the Sterling  Valley Loop Trail at Sterling Forest State Park. It was raining when I arrived, and it pretty much rained for the entire 7.7 mile hike. While it never came down very hard, it was just enough to make birding a little bit difficult. I wore good rain gear, so I stayed dry and so did my camera (by the way my gear included wearing a day glow vest since turkey hunting season started this morning). And I had a cover for the eyepiece of my binoculars, so I was doing my best to keep the rain off of the ocular lenses. But, I didn’t take into account a couple of things: First, I spent much of my birding time looking straight up into the tops of trees, so the objective lenses of my bins were getting soaked. Second, whenever I brought my binoculars to my eyes, the ocular lenses would fog over. Next time around, I will be sure to bring a soft absorbent towel for drying the objective lenses and clearing the condensation off the ocular lenses. I was also holding my bins away from my eyes so they wouldn’t fog over, at that worked to a certain extent.

As far as the birding went, the trail was only moderately birdy. I spent 5 hours hiking and had a modest (for this time of year) 39 species. I added 2 species to my Orange County year list: American Redstart (of which I had several), and Eastern Kingbird. I thought I was going to have to do a post with no photos (which I am always reluctant to do), but luckily when the rain let up a little bit, I had a decent opportunity with a Black-and-white Warbler. I also had a chance to photograph an Eastern Kingbird, but I was shooting through the brush and never got a clean focus on the bird.

When I had gotten home and stripped off all my wet gear, I received a call from Rob Stone. He was on a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER at Wickham Lake. Back on with the gear! I ran for the bird and it was still present when I arrived. I walked the trail on the southeast of the lake to get a little closer to the bird. I got better scope views from there and a post-able photo. WWSC is definitely what I consider a good bird for the county. Thanks once again to Rob, who never ceases to amaze.

~Yes! White-winged Scoter at Wickham Lake, 5/1/16.~

And then there was this…

~Earlier this week, on Tuesday, I walked a small part of the Sterling Loop and had hardly and birds and zero warblers. When I got back to my car, which was parked in the Visitor’s Center lot, this Pine Warbler flew out of the tree line and right at me. It did several laps around my car, very tight to the car and then landed on the windshield wiper. I tried to move to take a photo and the bird flew, taking several more laps around my car, hugging the corners, before landing on my rearview mirror which was literally only a couple feet from me. I stepped back to be able to take a photo (how often can I say that about shooting a warbler?). Then the bird took more laps and landed on the back of my car where I got this shot. It was very strange behavior and I’m not really sure what to make of it. PIWA at Sterling Forest State Park, 4/26/16.~

11 thoughts on “Rainy Sunday Birding, 5/1/16”

  1. I had a similar experience as your piwa today but with a barn swallow, only no landing. I felt like a dog was chasing my car, I had to brake several times exiting the dirt road

    1. Oh, that’s so strange. I wonder if there is some sort of explanation for this kind of behavior? Matt

    1. It was really incredible to me Randal, because the bird was SO close to me, which adds to the detail. Matt

  2. I had this same experience a few years ago with a yellow warbler. Still can’t figure out why this occurred .

    1. Rosemarie – check out Jim’s comment about the bird seeing its reflection in the car. This makes sense to me. Matt

  3. Could be the bird caught a glimpse of its reflection and was defending its area from an intruder. they have done this to my windows a couple of times. Its reflection appears in the shot you posted.

    1. That makes sense to me Jim, especially since I’d just had my car washed (something I rarely do) and it was pretty shiny. Thanks for your help! Matt

  4. Matt
    Maybe the Pine Warbler saw its reflected image in your car windows and mirrors, and reacted as if another male was in his territory?
    Tom Millard

    1. I’m glad you didn’t see it Tom – it’s good to get confirmation on what was likely going on there. Good to hear from you. Matt

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