In mid-August I wrote about looking for fall migrants at McAlpine Park on a warm and generally unproductive day.
Last Monday, on a cool and drizzly day I returned and fared much better. It’s a good illustration of how weather and timing control the numbers of migrants found this time of year.
The most productive area on that Monday was the weedy rise at the northwest corner of the lake at the park. The goldenrod and verbena thickets held indigo buntings, now brown with just a tinge of blue; palm warblers working the weed tops, characteristically pumping their tails; common yellowthroats, gray catbirds, house finches and one Nashville warbler, an uncommon species that I see only about once a year.
A flurry of activity in a large hackberry tree on the edge of the clearing revealed feeding scarlet tanagers, now lemon yellow with dark wings; Tennessee warblers; and Eastern bluebirds. A male rose-breasted grosbeak minus the rose breast of spring perched for a while in a dead treetop and even sang a quiet song.
The thick box elders and sycamores encircling the clearing held energetic American redstarts, chestnut-sided warblers, Northern Parulas, and magnolia warblers. Northern mockingbirds were thick, chasing each other around as they vied for the best patches of pokeweed.
I strolled through some heavily wooded trails and saw a nice female hooded warbler, all yellow with flashing white spots on her fanned tail. Black-throated green warblers and Blackburnian warblers zipped through the canopy here as well. A black-and-white warbler worked the trunk of a tree in nuthatch fashion, typical of this bark gleaning species.
A quick check of the lake and beaver pond revealed up to four pied-billed grebes, up from two a month and a half ago. Two ruby-throated hummingbirds were still working the jewelweed in the wet areas.
It was a great couple of hours of birding. I ended up with 13 warbler species, a nice total any time. The next front will likely bring new birds, including the first winter resident species of the season. Stay tuned.