I had my best ever morning of birding at Loudy-Simpson Park in Craig this morning (Sep 3). I had 11 species of warblers along with two brightly plumaged Cassin’s Vireos. Warblers included Wilson’s (30), Orange-crowned (25), Townsend’s (8), MacGillivray’s (5), Yellow (5), Virginia’s (2), Nashville (1 or more), C. Yellowthroat (1), Yellow-rumped (1, first of season), American Redstart (1) and, the bird of the day, Blackpoll (1). There was also a Plumbeous Vireo, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches and one empid that I think was a Hammond’s. The Townsend’s Warblers were all dull-plumaged juvenile types. I saw a male Nashville at numerous locations around the nature trail loop—if I only saw one it was moving around a lot. I was even privileged to watch it gleaning insects along the trunk of a dead tree, which afforded a great opportunity to study it at length. The redstart was a different individual from the one I saw last week. This one was much more brightly colored and appeared to be an adult female. The Blackpoll Warbler was a first for Loudy-Simpson and a first west slope bird for me. It was in fall plumage and it took me a few seconds to register what it might be and then several minutes to confirm the identification. Fortunately, it fed out in the open for part of the time I was studying it. I believe the Blackpoll is the second Moffat County record, with the first spotted by Coen and Brenda a few years ago at the Lily Park CG in Dinosaur NM. By the way Coen, I am now finally over the bitterness of not hearing about the Dinosaur NM bird (just kidding!).
Given the good weather lately, I was surprised at such a nice migrant fallout this morning. The only explanation I can come up with is the recent cool nights must have the birds moving.
I love nasty weather in September. The stormy weather over the past few days led this evening to one of the best fall migration fallouts in my 20 years in Craig. Highlights included a fall male Chestnut-sided Warbler, a fem/juv American Redstart, a Northern Waterthrush, a Cassin’s Vireo, a flyover Peregrine Falcon, Townsend’s Warblers (5), Nashville Warbler’s (3) and, just when I thought they were all gone, a single Yellow Warbler.
Other migrants included Orange-crowned (20), Wilson’s (100+), Yellow-rumped (10) and MacGillivray’s (5) Warblers; Lincoln’s Sparrows (4), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1), Western Tanagers (4), Cordilleran Flycatcher (2), Hammond’s Flycatcher (1) and unidentified empids (2). Late-ish birds for the Craig area included Lazuli Bunting (1), Black-chinned Hummingbird (1) and Western Kingbird (1). Catbirds, House Wrens and pewees are still hanging around.
The Chestnut-sided Warbler was kind of an interesting story. I saw the back half of a warbler from below just before getting rained out last evening. All I could see was white under feathering with a distinct rufous wash along the flanks. It then flew before I had a chance to see the head or back. I was unbelievably frustrated because I knew the bird was either a Chestnut-sided or Bay-breasted Warbler. Because the undertail was more white than buff I suspected CS but I couldn’t be sure. Tonight I had about given up on finding it as I was about to get rained out again when I saw a warbler in a tree full of warblers with an unnaturally green back. I zeroed in on that bird and to my relief it turned out to be the Chestnut-sided.
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Weekend storm fronts resulted in a nice migrant fallout at Loudy-Simpson Park in Craig last evening. The highlight was a fall-plumaged Chestnut-sided Warbler sporting a neon green back, along with the other requisite field marks. Not much chestnut on the sides, so I wasn’t sure as to gender as I’m not very familiar with fall Chestnut-sides. Also spotted was a female/juvenile American Redstart and three or so Townsend’s Warblers. Surprising was a couple of Brown Creepers; they usually don’t show up until later in the fall. Yellow-rumped Warblers (well over 100) have displaced Wilson’s Warblers as the dominant passerine at the park.
Sadly I ran out of daylight before I had a chance to sort out all the birds to my satisfaction but I plan to go back later today to see if there is anything still around that I missed.