Autumnal Marsh Walk! ‘Bird Is The Word’ Blog #67

I have to admit this late summer/early autumnal season has had its ups and downs out on the birding trails. I’ve been driven out of some of my favorite spots by ravenous mosquitoes which is a downer.  But on the upside if you’ve been following this blog you already know recently that Western Sandpiper,Western Kingbird, as well as a Sora have been added to my life list. I may be able to add a possible (probable) Baird’s Sandpiper to the list as well. This I’D looks pretty good to me, but I’m still studying the finer details of the bird, needing to be 100% sure! This bird would be mega for me, especially cause they always seem to be far away and gone by the time I get there.


Baird’s Sandpiper


Baird’s Sandpiper


This one has matching I’D points. Black legs,streak over the eye, scaly appearance of feathers with white edges, wings that extend past the rump and the color that runs through the throat to the chest before giving way to the light colored belly. I’ve been given the thumbs up by the original birder that spotted three Baird’s earlier that day at this location. Those three it seems moved on as I couldn’t find ones that matched his photo’s. However this bird still looked good! No one has told me no yet, and I feel like I’m 90% certain I’m good, but that 10% is irking me. My life list is at 310 not counting this Baird’s Sandpiper and it feels good having 100% confidence in each tick added to the list.


It’s not all about life list birds, but admittedly there are few feelings quite as cool as seeing a new species of bird. It’s a magical experience, that I’m sure all birders can relate too. You’ll know if you have a lil’ ‘birder’ in you if you feel that excitement when you start to see new species.


That brings us back to today, selecting a low tide in autumn is potentially an awesome thing at the marsh. Instead of everything full of water, the marsh is nearly completely drained allowing the waders like Egrets and Herons and the Shorebirds like Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, spotted Sandpiper and fellow ‘peeps’ to move in.  Also a nice host of gulls. All these birds like the opportunity of the muddy shallow and empty pools filled with crabs, clams, small fish and the like.


It’s the right time of year and the right tide, but however the shorebirds just weren’t around today. It was overcast and rain seemed to be imminent. Quickly after arriving a fellow birder pointed to a Green Heron that he was watching so I could see it too! That’s always appreciated!  The nearby parking lot had a group of Cedar Waxwings, including some juvenile birds feeding in a berry filed tree. It was nice to share their presence with a few birders that were passing by! Cedar Waxwings always impress birders with their color, bandit mask and awesome crest. This youngster isn’t flashy, yet, but still so cool!!


Cedar Waxwing

A Belted Kingfisher rattled by and a Merlin that was fooling nobody was working the treeline as well. Being followed around by Blue Jays that had every bird in the marsh aware that a predator was among them. Coming a across a bunch of Snowy and Great Egrets I thought I spied a juvenile Little Blue Heron but after zooming in my photo revealed it was a Snowy Egret. I then got some close looks at a young Yellow-crowned Night Heron as well as this Greater Yellowlegs. I tried to get fancy and get a decent picture with a nice full reflection. The bad light as well as keeping a respectful distance cost some clarity, but that’s OK!


Greater Yellowlegs


My luck really turned for the better when a Marsh Wren darted around the phragmites nearby, nothing more then a few blurry shots came of that but then a new bird came on the scene. A bird you may know has given me some fits over the years as far as never staying still or out in the open long enough for me to get a good photograph of it. That bird is the Common Yellowthroat Warbler. This young male was content to perch up nearby and make my day by posing for a few shots. I didn’t have the luxury of good light, but had done my due diligence to have a manual setting all set up for the overcast day. Equipped with a decent shutter speed at the ready. This was very handy especially compared to what any automatic setting would be doled out by my Nikon P600. So with a fully open aperture, a medium ISO and 1/500 shutter speed I was getting the best photo’s I think this camera can take in these conditions!


Common Yellowthroat


Except for maybe some Yellow-rumped Warblers most autumnal warblers are on their way down south this time of year as this bird will be soon!






Soon this bird will take his maiden voyage down south for the winter! That’s pretty exciting! Migration always fascinates me! An amazing experience! It was so nice getting to spend a few minutes with this great Yellowthroat. Returning to the parking lot to leave I walked among an active group of Savannah Sparrows and one perched up close just as a little sun peeked through the clouds!


Savannah Sparrow


It may have not been the day I expected, as my intel didn’t quite result in finding many shorebirds, but my local marsh is always filled with great birds, and I always learn from the great staff there! That chance meeting with that young Common Yellowthroat is something I will never forget!


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