NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 25, 2013

A spiffy warbler draws crowds of onlookers

Doug Chickering of Groveland reminds us that ZZ Top sang “Every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp-dressed man” and tells us about his encounter with such a male: “This is the time; these are the days. All birding is good, all birding is an adventure, but the middle of May is the pinnacle of the experience. Finally, this year the weather has turned and our long agonizing wait for the passerines that epitomize the season is over. Here at last, a wave of warblers.

“Today Lois Cooper and I were in the S Curves at Plum Island. We had encountered Peter and Fay Vale who informed us that they had just seen two blackburnians [warblers] a few score yards north. That, of course got our attention. We moved up and, at the northern most large oak on the ocean side of the road, I pulled over and got out. Immediately I spotted a male blackburnian and motioned to Lois.

Before she could get to the tree, however, the blackburnian dropped into the heavy stuff and vanished. We waited. I got a few more glimpses and soon we were joined by a pair of photographers and then by Sam Miller. Suddenly the bird reappeared — this time on a lower branch, right at the edge of the road. It was only about 10 feet from us, and it perused and foraged in the same general area. I had already seen a nice blackburnian warbler at Hellcat last week. We eventually found another full male and then a female. The female was a little dull, but still nice, and the other male was beautiful.

This blackburnian before us was of a different, higher order. He foraged over our heads, glowed and shone, his marking crisp and pure. The black was a deep perfect black, as if these parts weren’t reflecting any light at all. The white markings were sharp and stood out in clear focused forms upon the black background. The fire throat was the deepest orange I had ever seen, like burning embers they seemed to glow even in the shade.

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