Spring Comes to the Portage

Too many birds, too many pictures and not enough time. How can that be? I give up, at least for the moment. Yesterday’s summery sunshiny weather produced some wonderful encounters with birds that simply cannot wait. Pushing all my other planned posts, aside, here we go!

Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers have arrived in abundance and were generally the first to distract me. They are notoriously difficult to photograph but yesterday was the exception. In the sequence below this perched bird, I happened upon a Blue-Gray at waist-level, focused on obtaining web filaments for its nest.

It was a treat to see this Swainson’s Thrush, however briefly..

Another skulker I don’t think I’ve ever seen here before was the Northern Waterthrush below. I was sitting down on a rock-like seat that looks over the water and noticed something moving.

Every year when I hear House Wrens I have to refigure them out, I don’t know why. And then they just sing ad infinitum before I ever see one. I managed to glimpse this one way up high in a treetop.

Not that I’m lacking for pictures, but this Tree Swallow didn’t make it into the last post and is here to represent the ones I saw yesterday but did not get a chance to photograph.

So now we come to the highlight of my day. It had been a sort of slow morning, actually, compared to the day before – which I hope to get around to in a not-too-distant future post – and I was a bit disappointed that I was seeing hardly any warblers. I speculated maybe the warm and calm winds on Saturday night were favorable to migrants continuing their voyages north and they weren’t stopping if they didn’t have to. So as I walked slowly back down the trail from where I’d seen the Waterthrush, I stopped when I heard a call that might be described as a sneezy trill followed by raspberries. It had been so long since I studied warbler calls, I wasn’t sure, so I checked the Sibley app on my phone as quietly as possible, and sure enough, I was in the presence of a Blue-Winged Warbler. I haven’t seen more than an unsatisfying glimpse of a Blue-Winged in years. So when two of them showed up in front of me, I was temporarily transported to bliss, away from the extra weight of being human lately. I could almost hear them saying “Hey, lady, nice Portage you got here.”

Among the other creatures coming back to life at the Portage, turtles and frogs.

Painted Turtle

There was this Chorus Frog American Toad crossing the trail. He sang for me. I have placed a brief recording of his song below him. Unfortunately, there’s a slow-moving freight train in the background. – Thanks to my friend Leslie, I have been corrected. I thought he looked more like a toad but I didn’t know toads sing!

In the sparrow department, a Chipping Sparrow, one of several elusive but very vocal Song Sparrows and a couple somewhat backlit photos of a Swamp Sparrow.

Most numerous at the moment are probably the White-Throated Sparrows but they’re just passing through.

White-Throated Sparrow

Warbling Vireos are back in force. I heard more on Saturday than I did yesterday but I managed to slightly photograph this one.

Warbling Vireo
Northern Cardinal in a nice spot, if distant

A Great Blue Heron flew right over my head.

Two common species of butterfly have been around this week, the Painted Lady and the Red Admiral.

Baltimore Orioles have arrived. I wonder if they’re possibly the same ones that visited my yard for the last time on Friday (I had three at once).

I was almost at the parking lot when I heard, and then saw, three Indigo Buntings – on the paved trail. They must have just arrived – getting their bearings, so to speak, because I have never seen them so tame. I’m sure I’ll be struggling to get any pictures of them the rest of the breeding season.

Here’s another Indigo Bunting I saw a bit earlier.

One of many singing male American Goldfinches

Ruby-Crowned Kinglets are still around, although I think these must be the females as I haven’t seen a red crown patch on any individuals for a week or more. But this one sure is a cutie.

A few views of the landscape.

Turtles basking in the sun.

The Portage is starting to green up. Pretty soon the water will be entirely green with duck weed.

This has to be my favorite photograph – the Blue-Winged showing off his worm.

Maybe you can tell I’ve been writing this post in fits and starts. It’s a bit disorganized because I inadvertently clicked on the “group” feature which seems to have cemented some unintended parts together, but I’m too lazy to start over again.

We have dropped thirty degrees back into cooler temperatures, and I guess that’s okay for Monday, but I want to hold onto the beauty of this past weekend as long as possible. I am thankful for spring migration and for my indoor birds, making it easier to get out of bed in the morning – albeit earlier and earlier as the days get longer!

15 thoughts on “Spring Comes to the Portage

    • Thanks and greetings! Likewise you have so many beautiful birds in Australia! I was fortunate enough to visit Queensland many years ago. 🙂

  1. First I thought the gnatcatcher was a showoff, then I saw the blue winged warblers, but then the orioles wowed me… until the indigo buntings showed up. What a bonanza this weekend!
    Glad to hear that spring has arrived for you, even if it’s taking a breather for a day or two.

    • I know, right? To be truthful, as nice a day as it was on Sunday, for the first couple hours it seemed like I wasn’t seeing as many birds as Saturday – but then I had these wonderful encounters. I am itching now for the warm weather to return for good so I can be outside more at home and clean up the front and back yards.

  2. Wow! That’s a lot of birds, my friend! Very select species I wish I have them here in Georgia.
    I guess it paid off to visit the Portage. Take care, Lisa. 🙂

    • Thanks, H.J. – I think you have more than a few birds I’ll never see here! I must admit I am able to take more time on my walks lately which, at least this time of year, is meaning seeing more birds. 🙂

  3. I love the Blue-Winged Warbler. We’re hoping to see a few Indigo Buntings, usually they show up in the garden right around Mother’s Day. There was a little bird I didn’t recognize hopping around the Serviceberry flowers recently. It looked like a fat little goldfinch, except with a small needle-type beak.

    • Interesting, the bird in your Serviceberry flowers – it wasn’t a Common Yellowthroat, maybe? It could have been any of a number of warblers that have a lot of yellow in them. Cold makes birds fluff up their feathers and look fat. 🙂

      • Yes, I had a close encounter with a Common Yellowthroat on Saturday. It could have been a Nashville Warbler, they can look pretty yellow and I have seen them low to the ground. There are so many to choose from, though. Wilson’s, Mourning Warbler, Yellow Warbler…

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