Despite unseasonably cool weather we had our best walk of the year this morning in the North End and elsewhere. We had 13 warblers and 58 bird species altogether, both of which are our highest totals of the season. We also added 8 new birds to our season list.
Initially the cold kept things quiet. We did hear an Ovenbird (first-of-season for us) as we ascended the path from the Pool up to the Great Hill. For about a half-hour after that we saw only common birds (along with a Brown-headed Cowbird) and were concerned that the day might go down as a historical worst for April 28th.
Then Starr got a call from Alex, who had wandered off, that there was decent activity in the North Woods’ High Meadow (not to be confused with the Wildflower Meadow well south).
When we arrived we were immediately treated to an uncommon sight, a Merlin perched in a tree in full view.
Starr heard a first-of-season Wood Thrush, which sang a few more times so that all could hear it.
The surrounding area was alive with the sounds of warblers high above. Starr heard a Prairie Warbler. We heard and soon saw a Black-throated Green Warbler. We also heard Yellow Warbler, along with Northern Parula (first-of-season), which some saw. Starr heard a first-of-season Magnolia Warbler sing several times. We also heard a Blue-eyed Vireo.
As we descended the Ridge Trail we heard more Yellow Warblers and Black-throated Green Warblers.
Waiting for us at the west end of the Loch by the first wooded bridge was our first-of-season Solitary Sandpiper, which gave everyone excellent, close views. It has been hanging around around this area for at least several days.
Just past the bridges going east on the Loch, Starr heard a White-eyed Vireo (also a new bird for the year), which some were able to glimpse very high in a tree.
We got good views of a Northern Waterthrush along the Loch.
The Meer brought us some very cooperative Swallows, both Barn and Northern Rough-winged, along with Mallard ducklings.
Starr heard a Common Yellowthroat chip nearby in the reeds bordering the Meer. The bird chipped more, and then flew south toward the hill. Some were able to see it on the hillside ground, but it did the rest of us a favor by singing (“wichety wichety wichety”), leaving no doubt as to its identity.
In the Wildflower Meadow the group heard the buzz of a Blue-winged Warbler.
But the fun was not over yet! Starr took the group via subway downtown and walked to the Shakespeare Gardens area where we saw the rare Kentucky Warbler that has remained since yesterday, a life bird for many.