Saturday, June 6, 2015

Like A Day without Sun

American Redstart. Pencil and Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski. seems like a Spring without Warblers. I've been out birding a number of times over the last few days, including about three hours today as part of the Breeding Bird Census and the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. And almost all the warblers, and other neo-tropical migrants, are gone. The ones that remain are breeding birds.

The warblers that breed in Philadelphia that spring to mind are in order of  likelihood: Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat, followed by American Redstart and Ovenbird. Perhaps there are others that might be found, a Northern Parula perhaps, but those first four are the most likely ones. And it seems, though I could be wrong that one of them, the Ovenbird is in decline. No one saw or heard any today during the bird census, in an area that should be fairly likely for them.

Of course the thrill of warblers is often the very many that don't breed here, that are moving onto other locales, even if they are only 100-200 miles from here. So in retrospect I'd have to say it's been one of the saddest years for local warblers that I can recall. There were very few warblers, at least in the places I birded.

As a tribute to them and to warblers in general I decided to do a quick watercolor based on a photo I'd taken last year of the handsome American Redstart. I chose this photo because I liked the way it showed the full bird, including the somewhat hefty undercarriage and the slightly curved bill.

I was mentioning to Jerene that though northern migration has ended southern migration could begin again by the end of the month, not warblers but shorebirds and perhaps others. Once you're attuned to nature the spectacle and excitement really is neverending. And of course dragonflies and butterflies are just starting to come into their own.

Milk Snake at SCEE. Photo by Ken Januski.
And of course snakes. No, not really. I'm not a great snake afficinado. But when I saw this unusual one, unusual at least to me, at the Schuylkill Center today I had to take a photo. As far as I recall it's the first Eastern Milk Snake I've ever seen.

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