On This Date - 14 Apr (1980) - five Upland's Sandpipers were at Fort De Soto Park.
WE'RE OFF TO A VERY GOOD START THIS APRIL
by AL B. TROSS
(He once brought in $14-million to a charity event, which was a lot of money at the time)
Spring migration is often nothing more than a guessing game when it comes to figuring out when and where incoming migrants might appear. Sometimes, however, the weather conditions are so obvious that it’s a no-brainer and birds are right where you thought they’d be. But I’m here to tell you that that doesn’t happen very often.
So what’s the best avenue to take during the spring? The answer is easy. During April, even when you have only a little amount of free time on your hands take whatever avenue will get you to the nearest Pinellas County park closest to the Gulf of Mexico. It just may pay off like it did for Travis Young on Wednesday. He had just 20-minutes to spare and at Bonner Park he scooped three Kentucky Warblers, a Worm-eating Warbler, eight Hooded Warblers, the season’s first Blackpoll Warbler, two Summer Tanagers and a couple of Wood Thrushes!
During our rush to see all the different species that might have dropped in during a fallout we might possibly overlook something. Any long-time birder can probably tell you a story of having just finished birding a section of woods only to have someone at the parking lot say, “Did you see the ___ while in there?” And you ask out loud “What?” and to yourself say, “What an idiot. How did I miss that one?”
So the question is, what is the warbler, at right? Does it look like a bird you've seen before? Is it a bird you would pursue if you only had a quick glance? We hope so, because it's a Townsend's Warbler (photo by Lyn Atherton in Sept 2005)
Few have seen a Townsend's Warbler in Pinellas. Or, only a few were sure of it. In different stages of their lives and plumages a Townsend’s could possibly be mistaken for a Magnolia, a Blackburnian or even a Black-throated Green Warbler if seen only briefly or by someone unfamiliar with the species and not thinking outside the box. Pinellas County has had five reports of Townsend’s Warbler with all but one verified by photo and/or video, but only one was a spring bird. That bird was one that wintered at Sawgrass Lake Park and stayed into the spring season. It was seen from Dec 4th through Mar 19th (1993) and we were able to witness it molt from its fall plumage into its spring. Recently, one was confirmed at Fort Pickens near Pensacola. So, what the hey? Why not here?
Below, are images of the three species that birders might see afield which look similar in some respects, to the Townsend's above. What I'm trying to say is - look over every warbler carefully. Don't make a quick call and go on to the next. Be sure. Your find just might be the 2014 Pinellas Bird of the Year.
PHOTO CREDITS L to R - Black-throated Green (R.Smith); Blackburnian (Sue Tavaglione); Magnolia (Sue Tavaglione)