Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Rare Visitors and Snow Days

The talk of the birding community within Boise for the past week has been the presence of two very rare warblers in Idaho. I first received the call on Thanksgiving Day just before dinner with my in-laws. This was not the best time to go running in pursuit of a few lifer birds. Or maybe it was, but I chosen to maintain family relations instead. The following day we left for a weekend in Sun Valley. I had mostly forgotten about the birds until receiving word yesterday that they were still around. I decided that Wednesday afternoon would be my chance.
Wednesday morning we awoke to about 7 inches of new snow and still more falling from the sky! This is an unusual amount for Boise. Shortly before heading to school I received a text message from the University indicating that classes were canceled. It was time to go birding! Since all the wimpy drivers stayed home, we had no problem making it down to the river.
Would the birds still be around with this much snow? Would they be hiding? Karyn and I's first walk through the snowy area failed to find anything but House Sparrows. Walking down river there were plenty of Canada Geese and Mallards. We could hear Belted Kingfishers in the distance and then the call of a Bald Eagle.
Juvenile Bald Eagle, probably 3rd year.
Walking back to "the spot", we noticed some small birds moving through the trees. I pull up my binoculars and there it was, my first ever view of a Yellow-throated Warbler! This bird is only the 3rd report ever in Idaho. I moved in for a photo, but none was to be had. I lost him. I continued searching until I found the other rarity, a Northern Parula! Lifer #2! This is only the 12th report ever in Idaho of a Northern Parula. I had to get a photo.
The bird would not hold still. It was moving through the branches foraging. I was juggling binoculars and the camera to try for a shot. The viewfinder was covered in snow. I couldn't tell if the camera was focusing or not. At one point the Parula was chased by a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. There he was still on a branch! Snap.
Northern Parula!
Dang, missed him! Another attempt.
Northern Parula.
Warblers are sooo hard to get wild photos of. Finally.
Northern Parula.
We searched some more for the Yellow-throated Warbler, but we never located it again.


Birding is Fun! said...

Awesome! I'm glad you got to see and photograph the Parula too. I had the same experience with the YT Warbler - a quick sighting and nothing more.

Up here in the foothills we go so much snow that we could not drive the car out of the neighborhood. I am stuck at home and missed my flight to Virginia. The roads are finally plowed and I hope to make it to VA tomorrow.

Dawn Fine said...

Congrats on those two warblers! Send them south where its warmer!