A Better Castaway Companion

Did you hear that!?! If you just heard a huge sigh of relief loud enough to be heard from the Netherlands, that would be me successfully putting a cap on one of the busiest two months I have experienced in a looooong time. The Annual Halloween Cookout is officially in the books (all the decorations are officially dried out, packed and stowed away), the 4 scheduled Half Marathon medals are hanging on the wall, the new well is awaiting final health inspection and as of Wednesday night, my presentation to the local Peoria Camera Club was given. Whew, that blurb sure doesn’t sound as difficult as it was to get all those checked off the to-do list. All of those tasks had been outlined in previous posts, with the exception of the presentation. The president of the Camera Club (Julie) attended my presentation to the local Audubon Society Chapter earlier in the year (link here). After that talk she offered up the opportunity to come and speak to the camera club. Honored to be considered, I quickly accepted and began fretting about it almost immediately. At the Audubon speech, I was in a room full of better birders and likely better photographers. In the new setting I was among a room full of better photographers and likely better birders. Definitely more comfortable in the former being a self-learned photographer. When Julie reached out with the October date, my heart skipped a beat and immediately went to work revamping the Birding Texas Gulf Coast talk to focus on the photography aspects. Apprehension remained up until the point the lights went down and the slide show started. Ended up running out of time to get through all the bird detail (due to favoring camera setup, field philosophies etc), but the audience seemed to enjoy the talk and received a lot of good comments afterward. Also got to talk to a few of them later thanks to a chance decision afterward to catch a bite to eat at the same place. Again, extremely honored to have the chance to present my craft to them and to meet a wonderful group of similar enthusiasts. Huge appreciation to Julie for making all that happen.

While preparing for this speech, I noticed a picture was included of a bird I had not featured on the blog yet – and by definition, one that did not have the official check by it on the bird list. This seemed like the perfect time to remedy that!

Wilson's Warbler found at The Valley Nature Birding Center, Weslaco Texas January 1st, 2018

Hit the Jump to find out what this new addition is!

Truth is, I have had this bird in the tin for a while from another outing. Ron and I had scored over 13 new +1’s during an extremely production trip up to Montrose Point, Chicago. That would be the home of the Magic Hedge (a somewhat seedy place at night, but an incredible birding spot during the day). We still need to find time to get through the ID work on that set, however, this is one of those 13.

Wilson's Warbler found at The Valley Nature Birding Center, Weslaco Texas January 1st, 2018

This particular specimen was found at The Valley Nature Birding Center in Weslaco Texas. Captured this distinctive Warbler on our recent birding trip over the Christmas holiday break. I was actually on the hunt for the national bird of Costa Rica, the Clay-Colored Thrush (link here). Just before I found that bird, this Wilson’s Warbler decided to stop by and say hello. There is a wide variety of Warblers that can be found around the US along with all the migrating species that pass through in the fall and spring. As a result, it is hard to keep track of all the key markings that lead to their proper ID.

Wilson's Warbler found at The Valley Nature Birding Center, Weslaco Texas January 1st, 2018

Not the case with the Wilson’s. This particular Warbler is easy to remember off the top of the head. Yep, you guessed it, that black cap gives it away every time. Unlike some of the Warblers, this one doesn’t bother to hide their unique feature. Nope, just puts it out there for even the greenest of birders to enjoy. Couple that with the overall bright yellow hue and you will be closing that reference book in record time. Note, this is the male characteristic. The females and immatures will sport a more olive colored cap. Probably a good time to point out that this was taken in an extremely dense setting on a very cloudy day resulting in the yellows being slightly muted. My other set of pictures are in much better light. Adding in this side shot below so you get a good feel for the overall coloring of the bird.

Wilson's Warbler found at The Valley Nature Birding Center, Weslaco Texas January 1st, 2018

Looks like I’m to the end of the shots. Let’s see what interesting things I can share about one of the smallest Warblers. The Wilson’s spends most of its time hunting through the ground cover looking for insects. They pretty much have the entire North American continent covered either in their breeding season up in Canada, migrating through the US and then wintering down in the Central America (of course, including the southern tip of Texas). Wilson’s primarily nest on the ground and as mentioned pass through all lower 48 states during migration. Unfortunately, very little beyond that other than color variations in the different regions which, in my opinion, are very difficult to tell in the field beyond the ones that sport a slightly more orange hue along the Pacific Coast.

Hope you enjoyed seeing the latest addition to the bird count (which by the way, went up 13 birds since the Audubon speech back in March – Ron better pick up the pace hehehehe.



8 thoughts on “A Better Castaway Companion”

  1. A very smart little warbler. Only three have made land fall in Britain and Ireland, and no I haven’t seen one they were so remote they might as well still be Stateside!
    Glad your speech went well, you have more nerve than me. I did a talk to a primary school (5-10 year olds) on bird migration and that was nerve wracking!
    Can’t wait for the other twelve and get your brother to start blogging again!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stood there thinking to myself when is that question going to come that I will not be able to answer – at least with 5-10 year olds you might be able to BS you way out of it in hopes they won’t question their elders ha. I have been trying to guilt my brother into picking up his blog output – I was hoping your comments would spark him to get it in gear – pretty sure he is thinking about it now – we just need to keep on him, he has a lot of good stuff he needs to share with us!


  3. Sure, I’ll pick up my blogging. I have big plans, you know…

    These are better pics than we got at Montrose Point. Really colorful birds with weird caps on their heads. Nice job!


    Liked by 1 person

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