Chairman of the Board

I now know what my hell would be like – plenty of downtime, but NO internet.  We just got back from UKC Premier held in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Basically Dog-A-Palooza as there were dogs competing everywhere you looked, prissy confirmation dogs in the midst of working dogs – dock diving, luring coursing, precision coursing, drag racing, weight pulling, nose work, obedience, rally and our specialty agility.  A lot going on, but huge gaps between Linda’s runs which I usually fill with posts… granted I have decent access.  What’s gives Kalamazoo, still relying on two cups and a string?  Instead, being in Michigan, decided to ponder who has the worst governor.  Both our governor and Michigan’s used pandemic as an excuse to destroy their economies (ours to get federal bailout for systemic fiscal failures, Gretchen tried to be VP).  Both felt they were above the lockdown protocols they forced on their constituents (after trying to lock us down, our governor sent his family to Florida and then Wisconsin, Gretchen went to Florida with her daughters).  Both are habitual liars except Gretchen can’t stop doubling down after being caught in lie after lie about her trip.  Ours is a tax evader and Gretchen is so vindictive she repeatedly goes after a barber even though their state judicial system clipped her.  Honestly, I can’t decide – looks like the only option is to head to the polls.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Blackpoll Warblers that is! ILL-noise is way too far gone to fix the political corruption – there actually might be more Illinois governors now that have served time than those that managed to weasel their way out without being caught. Michigan, you are on your own up there. The good news is Warblers could care less about our politics. Assume they worry more about how to complete their migrations every year. The Blackpoll pictured here is one of those that put my distance running to shame. Imagine having to fly nonstop from the eastern coasts all the way to South American every fall. Interesting enough, Cornell noted that they take a less intense spring trek opting to pass through the Caribbean Islands before heading to Canada and Alaska.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our long distance flier.

This specific specimen comes to you from another find at Dauphin Island. We were birding an incredible site referred to as Indian Shell Mound Park. From the Alabama Indigenous Mound Trail site (link here), archeological excavation identified this as a prehistoric settlement area dating back some 4500 to 3200 years ago. Today it is clearly a meeting grounds for thousands of migrating Warblers and eager birdophiles.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

We made or way there several times and experienced incredible birding on all visits. 18 acres of varying habitats acting as magnets to any Warbler making their way through. Lush vegetation, varying maturity of trees, ponds and babbling brooks/springs providing everything they need to fuel up for the rest of their journey north. This particular specimen was a bit of a surprise.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

We were taking pictures of a Waterthrush (yep, it is in the queue) at a small brook in the middle of the park. Horribly dark as the canopy was really thick causing a lot of internal cussing as it darted in and out of the rays of light that managed to push through darkness (tossed probably 4 out of every 5 shots as a result). All of sudden, a small whitish bird landed nearby – I swear it was trying to get my attention “screw that fake Thrush, take my picture!” Pointed out our new visitor to Ron and noted it looked different than the rest of the Warblers we had captured up to that point. Of course, now I am trying to take a picture of a white and dark bird in a bright and dark area (okay, that might be my real hell ha). Managed to get a few shots in the tin – can’t remember if Ron got the settings dialed in enough or not.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Ron is the one that correctly ID’d the Warbler. A brand new one for the trip and more importantly an official +1 for me. I might have shots of a non-breeding specimen from Montrose from a few years back, but Ron and I still need to process those shots. I didn’t remember the Blackpoll being on the sighting’s board when we came in. On our way back we checked and confirmed – no Blackpoll sightings (checked the shots I took on the board from the other visits and it was missing in those as well). One of my first board adds ever – Ron even captured the exciting moment!

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Just call me the chairman of the board hehehehe. Note, do not look at the other entries on the board or you will ruin the future post surprises (considered blurring those out, but decided to trust my readers … hey, stop looking).

As our time with this specimen was limited, I’m out of shots to share so better get to some interesting facts before calling it. The Blackpoll will lose its black cap in the fall and morph into a more yellow/green so common with the other Warblers (which is one of the reason it is taking Ron and I so long to get them identified from our other encounter). Cornell did quantify their migration distance as up to 1,800 miles which puts them in the top Warbler over water distance list – imagine these Warblers having to fly nonstop for 3 days. When they see Dauphin they probably look like I do when I finally see the finish line of an ultra trail run. After all that, they have to deal with us crazy birders trying to photograph them – maybe that bird was really yelling at me to “go away” – unfortunately, they can sing at 10,000hz which is way above my retired threshold (my frequency stops just below Linda’s honey do call frequency).

Take care everyone, hope you enjoyed my new entry on the bird list.

17 thoughts on “Chairman of the Board”

  1. Congrats on getting on the board with this very interesting little warbler. Great photos, too, giving the environment as well as a good view of the bird. Hang in there on the political front, I’m convinced it cannot last – too many sensible folks left in this world 🙂 Oh, and a huge thank you on listing me under your Friends of the Blog – which I am, indeed!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Sam! An early teaser on the Warbler front as I’ll be rolling out the rest of the finds from Dauphin over the next couple of months which are primarily migrating Warblers – assuming I got something decent enough to show the world ha. Unfortunately, I broke my streak of not looking at the news which made me all cranky – all better now and yes, I am hopeful things will get back to some sense of civility. You are welcome on the listing – you have such wonderful wildlife shots I had to make sure you were recognized.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. A very smart warbler B. Interesting to note it’s probably the most numerous of the ‘New Worlds’ to pitch up over here come Autumn (oh sorry, fall) sadly mostly as far from my home as physically possible.
    Anyways what caught my eye was the mention of dogs drag racing, boy would I like to see them pooch’s smoke their paws over the quarter! Managed to get tickets for a nostalgia meeting next month, everything is limited at the moment due to a virus or something.
    Ditch the politics, it won’t do the old ticker any good fretting over something you can’t change.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Didn’t know they managed to sneak over there – guess they are good on the wing. I had never heard of the dog drag racing before and managed to stop by there and catch some of the warmups. Man, those dogs are amped when they get to the starting line – there is a white baggy type thing they use as a lure that is pulled through the track ahead of them which has a few jumps in it – mainly saw the single qualifiers, but someone I was talking to said they can have up to 6 in the race at a time. No smoke or smells of high octane fuel burning though, just excited barks and wagging tails (the good kind, not the rear end waggle that can happen in your grown up sport). Oh, and the lure coursing was pretty cool to – basically they put out a line with a pulley system that wanders around a field to the point you can barely see the dog. They let that lure go and the dog chases out after it – smart ones anticipate the corners and try to cut it off. Laughed a couple of times when the dog got out to the far end and decided it was done and just stopped making the owner hike out to it. Thanks for coming by B. – we are pretty much fully opened up now here – hoping the same comes soon for you across the pond.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Brad – yep, the interesting ones are always the loners – to be honest, this one was more of a gift than a find, but Ron and I will definitely take it. Hard part now is trying to figure out what exactly that Waterthrush was. The Northern and Louisiana are very similar and the field keys that I’ve used before don’t seem to be holding true based on what some other birders were telling me about them. Will probably have to call Ron and come to consensus so I can get those shots posted. Appreciate you dropping by and joining the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do the Northern and the Louisiana sound different? A southern drawl or lilt perhaps? That’s why you need to create Doerfler’s Guide to North American Birds. Include audio clips for the tough to differentiate specimens.

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      2. The field markings they claim are the N. has stronger spotting than the L. more buffer wash and the eyebrow is thinner. It is still unclear to me if the L always has pinker legs than the N and a birder (wearing a Cornell Ornithology shirt) told me that L’s are always around fast moving water where the N’s prefer calmer/stagnant/floodle waters. The Waterthrush I was taking a picture of at this time had fairly pink legs but was basically at a tiny spring which contradict each other. Analyzing the breast coloring and neck spotting to see if I can narrow it down that way. One of those cases where you really need them side by side to have any confidence. As far as the southern song… unfortunately they spend their breeding days way north and get laughed at by the locals so they try to hide any drawls to keep from being called out.

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  3. Ok, noticed more of a retired tone in your blogs. Haha (talk of political leaders, very popular with retired folks.) What really caught our eye on this post was the Beast! Wow! You don’t have a tripod for that? Impressive.
    Loved the discussion you had with “B” over the drag race at the dog event. Sounds entertaining and environmentally friendlier than the auto sort.
    Stay safe and enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. See, this is what happens when I can’t focus on my posts, I start looking at the news and then I get all cranky retired like ha! The Beast can get a bit burdensome at the end of a long day, but the freedom of not being tied to a tripod or having to lug that awkward thing around is worth it – just means I have to spend extra time in the weight room in between the long runs – for some reason I have been unable to convince Linda to carry it for me. Wish I could have seen an actual multi-dog drag race – it must get interesting as they require all the dogs to wear these loose fitting muzzles to keep from any “incidents” – guessing some of the dogs get pissed if they don’t win ha. laughed at the “environmentally friendlier” comment – they even make their own compost. Appreciate you coming by CJ and hopefully I’ll be mellowed out by my next post.

      Liked by 3 people

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