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09/29/12
Avoiding “warbler neck”
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches", Wild Bird Wednesday, Bird D'pot
Posted by: Ken @ 12:49 pm

This stork showed up on our back lawn yesterday afternoon. It was so close that I had to back up to fit its entire image into my viewfinder.

Wood Stork close 20120928

This year there have been very few Wood Storks on our lake or the surrounding wetlands. After a banner nesting season in 2009, when dozens of immature storks visited us, we have seen only adults, and fewer each year. See my updated blog “Struggling Storks.”

It is interesting to see how the stork rests one leg by grasping the other by its  “knee.”

Wood Stork 2-20120928

Our local birding patch cannot really be called a “hotspot,” or a place to find a rarity, and it does not have unusually large concentrations of resident and migratory birds. Because we visit it frequently, nearly every morning, we have sighted a total of 109 species, 18 of them warblers. In truth, at the peak of migration the greatest number of warbler species tallied at one time has been 7 or 8, and there are have been many mornings when we failed to see a single one.

Warblers are much more abundant at several locations that are fairly nearby, but we are “homebodies” who prefer to get in our exercise and also fit an hour or so of birding into our morning schedule. An advantage we enjoy is that there are few tall trees in our wetland, which is officially called the West Broward Water Conservation Area. While this limits the habitat suitable for warblers and other migrant and resident birds, it does bring them down to eye level. Birders who visit prime warbler sighting areas and spend hours looking up into the tops of tall trees often are afflicted with “warbler neck.”

This past week, after the great day we described in the previous post  we set out with high expectation and were not disappointed.

Common Yellowthroats breed locally, but their numbers are expanded by migrants passing through. This is an adult male.

Common Yellowthroat 20120928

This immature male still has not developed a full mask.

Common Yellowthroat imm male 20120924

The demure female yellowthroat is no less beautiful.

Common Yellowthroat 2-20120920

Prairie Warblers also nest locally.

Prairie Warbler 20120927

Several Ovenbirds appeared.

Ovenbird 20120928

Ovenbirds commonly forage on the ground.

Ovenbird 20120925

Although we have been birding this area since 2004, this was our first local sighting of a Worm-eating Warbler, and my first-ever photograph of one.

Worm-eating Warbler 20120925

As the skies were overcast these photos did not turn out very well, but it was a thrill to capture its image. Without flash and at ISO 800 with the aperture locked at f/5.6, the 1/100 second exposures were blurred by the bird’s movement. There is a rule that wildlife exposure speed should at least be the inverse of the focal length of my  420mm system, or 1/420 second.  

Worm-eating Warbler 3-20120925

The skies cleared and a few Black-and-white Warblers appeared. They are very active as they climb along the larger branches in search of insects hidden in the bark.

Black-and-white Warbler 20120924

Black-and-white Warbler 2-20120924

There followed one of my most enjoyable few minutes since taking up bird photography. A group of 4 -6 Yellow-throated Warblers suddenly flew in. One was so tame that I had to switch my lens to a macro setting because the bird approached nearer than 3 meters.

Yellow-throated Warbler 02-20120924

While I have photographed this species previously, it was the first time I had ever seen them in our local patch.

Yellow-throated Warbler 09-20120924

I won’t bore you with any more, but suffice it to say that I took over 50 photos of them, many up close and personal.

Yellow-throated Warbler 11-20120924

Other birds of note included this Red-eyed Vireo.

Red-eyed Vireo 20120924

The Northern Cardinals have just about finished their post-breeding molt into fresh plumage. Note the new tail feathers growing in.

Northern Cardinal 20120924

A Great Crested Flycatcher peered out through the branches.

Great Crested Flycatcher 20120924

Two pairs of Common Ground-Doves feasted on the fruit of a nearby Florida Trema.

Common Ground-Doves 2-20120924

A Loggerhead Shrike perched atop a shrub.

Loggerhead Shrike 2-20120924

A Green Heron eyed me from its vantage point along the canal.

Green Heron 20120924

A migrating Brown Thrasher scolded me with a loud “chack!”

Brown Thrasher 20120924

The next morning brought in Palm Warblers, which will spend their winter locally, becoming so common that locals call them “Florida Sparrows.”

Palm Warbler 20120925

A Great Egret cast a nice reflection.

Great Egret 2-20120927

Lantana blossomed…

Lantana 20120923

…and flowers of the Arrowhead thrust up in a swampy area.

Arrowhead flower 20120928

Several small butterflies were active, including this Monk Skipper, native to Cuba, sipping nectar from a Ligustrum.

Small skipper poss Swarthy 20120927

Another nondescript skipper is Horace’s Duskywing.

Duskywing poss Horaces 20120927

The Fiery Skipper is more distinctively marked.

Small skipper poss Fiery 20120927

By mid-morning I had to keep a close eye on the weather and confined my wandering to an area only a quarter of a mile from home. Storm clouds built up over the 196th Avenue canal that borders our subdivision. Looking south, our birding patch extends to the north and south along the right (west) side of the canal

196th Avenue Canal HDR 20120928

This was the view heading home along the unfinished extension of Miramar Parkway as it curves to the east.

Miramar Parkway HDR 20120928

18 Responses to “Avoiding “warbler neck””

  1. DeniseinVA Says:
    A fantastic collection of photos, all super enjoyable. Loved the birds and especially thought the stork was amazing. What an interesting looking bird.
  2. Carole M. Says:
    well how interesting to see the stork resting with it’s foot latched onto the other knee like that. I love each of your bird photographs, just beautiful. I really like birds with some yellow on too and those ones really caught my eye especially.
  3. Hanne Bente Says:
    Beautiful photo series showing. Wish you a good Sunday :) Hanne Bente
  4. Eileen Says:
    Gorgeous birds and photos, Ken! I love the closeup of the stork and all the warblers. Your last shots of the sky are beautiful. Happy Sunday!
  5. Boom & Gary Says:
    Great sequence!! Those skies are stunning. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.
  6. Carlos Ross Says:
    Not too dissimilar from my patch birdwise (though WDW is considerably further inland as Florida goes) but as I don’t have specialized photographic equipment I’m stuck vicariously enjoying other folks’ camera work. Congrats on getting Worm-eating Warbler as a patch bird!
  7. Adam Jones Says:
    Some really stunning birds and superb photos. Great stuff.
  8. NatureFootstep Says:
    so many great birdshots I donĀ“t even know where to start commenting on them. :)
  9. Mick Says:
    As usual, great photos of all the birds. The storm build up is magnificent. I find it interesting how close your birding patch is to all the houses just across the canal. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine what the environment is in other places.
  10. Hootin' Anni Says:
    Oh my goodness….would you LOOK at that?!!! In your own back yard?!!! AmAZING.
  11. Brian King Says:
    Wow, fantastic shots of the stork! It really was close. Nice variety of warblers and songbirds! I haven’t seen an Ovenbird in a long time. The Green Heron is one of my favorites. Beautiful scenic shots at the end, too!
  12. Andrew Says:
    A wonderful post… your beautiful birds are so colourful. Superb images.
  13. Anni @ I'd Rather B Birdin' Says:
    Sorry I’m so late this week getting around to view your bird shares and checking out the Bird D’Pots linkies!!! The computer of mine is now running a lot smoother to where I can actually get out and browse photos!!! Thanks for linking up at the Bird D’Pot this past weekend.
  14. Stewart M Says:
    Thats a great set of pictures. The variety of warblers in your neck of the wood is stunning! I you have a look at ‘ecobirbers’ comment on my blog you will see the link between all these similar kites - all that stuff was news to me! Cheers - Stewart M - WBW
  15. Kim Smith Says:
    This is my first visit to your blog (from the Facebook group, Birders Who Blog Tweet and Chirp), and I can tell I’ll be coming back for more. What a wonderful collection of photos! I especially love your up close pics of the Yellowthroats — so pretty. I look forward to coming down to Florida for some birding one day. You have such variety there — I’m a bit jealous. ;-)
  16. Pat Says:
    From the marvelous close-up of the stork to the tiny fiery skipper, an array of fabulous nature captures!
  17. Red Nomad OZ Says:
    There’s only one stork in Australia - and it looks quite different to yours! Although I’ve never been quite that close to one - what a thrill!!
  18. ken schneider Says:
    Thanks, all, for visiting and for your wonderful comments!

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