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May 10, 2014

Local author shares his birding experience

May is a special time on Plum Island when, if the winds and other conditions are right, you can experience an amazing phenomenon whereby large numbers of warblers and other passerines drop in to feed and revive themselves on their journey north.

Doug Chickering of Groveland experienced just such a “fallout” of warblers back in 2008 which he described for us:

“If it is my fate to spend time during eternity in Paradise I think I have a fairly clear notion as to what it will be like, or at least what Paradise is like for this poor soul. Some of it anyway will be like today. I guess these special days come practically every May and every time one comes we are convinced that there never has been its equal. Whatever the truth of the matter, there can be no doubt that these are about the brightest days of the year. Even a day like today, when there was no sun and there were even a few touches of rain. It was a day for the warblers and apparently it made little difference where you were, as long as you were in Massachusetts and were searching for migrants. I was on Plum Island and it seldom gets any better than today.

The highlight for Lois and I was probably the Cape May Warbler, dark and crisp and out in the open, playing to the plaudits of the crowd. There is nothing like a Cape May Warbler or its equivalent to spread good cheer and a sense of camaraderie to an appreciative gathering of friends and strangers. However the Cape May was just the most obvious highlight. The trees and edges were rife with birds. At times the sheer number of them was almost overwhelming. Each tug of a branch or flicker of movement brought the promise of a nice bird and the possibility of a great moment of discovery. We would search the trees with disciplined method or flit from one motion to another frantic with the gnawing fear that a cherished moment was passing by.

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