Regardless of the grey overcast skies over Memorial Day weekend, I set out on an adventure to Johnson Road, hot with warbler fever. Johnson Road is in the middle of nowhere, but it was the center my universe this weekend since Hermit Warblers were sighted there recently. The forest land surrounding the road is owned by Weyerhaeuser who permits public day-use recreation. The road is also not far north from Stub Stewart State park, one of my favorite state parks and also the site of my first birding trip.
I arrived early on the scene.
It was kind of eerie to be alone in the middle of nowhere…in a place where people leave the remains of…ceramic frogs?
Weird. But once I heard the birds chirping, I forgot about the remoteness and creepy frog head and it was game on!
Dive-bombing left and right were Rufous Hummingbirds.
From the treetops fly-catchers chirped, sang, and chased after insects.
This one above is an Olive-sided Flycatcher. How do I know that? Because it sang, “Quick, THREE beers.” I’m thankful for my Warblers and Flycatchers class and my birding by ear trips with Audubon. Also note, the bird’s bulky build and dark “vest.”
Here’s another flycatcher:
This smaller one with two light wing bars ( and sometimes a thin eye-ring- none in this case), sang “Fitz-bew” so I know it to be a Willow Flycatcher.
Also in the treetops (and more recognizable) were Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, and a Bewick’s Wren.
A surprise treat low in the shrubs was a peek at this Swainson’s Thrush (I think it’s a Swainson’s – buffy eye-ring, lack of the rusty-contrasted tail associated with Hermit):
I also heard warblers, lots of them all around me. I had flash-backs of the Western Meadowlark incident at Coyote Labyrinth hike when I heard birds, but never found them, and I wondered if today would be the same.
Indeed, it was looking to be a repeat story for new warblers until far off I spotted it.
It never fails to spark that cheesy 1970s Carole King song in my head, “So Far Away”…
A teeny moving spec that my eyes and camera had to work really hard to see, but the payoff was worth it. A MacGillivray’s Warbler! Neat! Oh, you can’t see it? A closer look:
Looks like he’s serenading the Rufous Hummingbird on the higher branch. Such a cool bird! I hope to hear and see more of these little fellas up close on future birding trips.
One last bird I came upon on the drive home was another flycatcher. I will share too many pictures of this one.
While it did not sing, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m calling this one an Olive-sided Flycatcher based on its bulky build, large bill, and “vest.”. My best flycatcher sighting to date! Cheers to that!
FITZ-bew and more beers!
Tweets and chirps,