Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beginning Birders Overrun with Warblers!

This morning, I led the first of two beginning bird hikes for Zion Nature Center. We are focusing on fall migrants and we were not disappointed today!

I got to Starkey Park in Zionsville a little early and started finding birds immediately! While waiting for people to arrive, I had two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, several Gray Catbirds, and a Tennessee Warbler. Once I met up with the rest of the group, it took us several minutes to find another flock of birds.

The first warbler we found was an Ovenbird moving through the brush. The Ovenbird led us to a large flock of birds including a Bay-breasted Warbler with tons of bay still visible! We stayed with that flock until all of the birds dissappeared. There were very few birds to look at for the next 20 minutes but then we found the biggest flock of the day! It started out slowly with just one Magnolia Warbler. Then a Least Flycatcher perched up for everyone to study closely. To our surprise, the Least was joined by another flycatcher which turned out to be a Yellow-bellied! It was a lifer for several people! We spent the next 30 minutes in this spot and there was always something to be looking at. We ended up with about 30 individual warblers of eight species just in this small area, mostly in one bush.

There were several other small flocks around the park but the highlight of the hike for me came in the parking lot after many of the participants had already left. At first we spotted only one Broad-winged Hawk. Then the numbers continued to grow until there were over 50 birds in one thermal! It is prime migration time for Broad-wingeds so be sure to keep an eye on the sky over the next few days!

Everyone was able to get great looks at many warblers, flycatchers, and vireos. Be sure to join us next Wednesday at 8am for our last fall migration hike!


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