[Tweeters] Hermit and 39 other warblers.

Josh Adams xjoshx at gmail.com
Thu May 28 15:14:18 PDT 2015

Hello Tweets,
Thanks to everyone who sent me tips on finding Hermit Warblers near
Seattle. While Spanaway Marsh, on the north end of JBLM, did sound like
closest known spot I realized that I'd need to wait out morning traffic in
the south end anyway so I drove the extra miles to Capitol Forest.

I had been warned about possible Townsend x Hermit hybrids so I gave pretty
close scrutiny to the first bird I encountered. Although it did look
exactly like a Hermit Warbler in just the right light I caught some
apparent streaking on the flanks. At some point I also caught a glimpse of
the top of its head which seemed to be darker than a "pure" Hermit Warbler
should be. I honestly would have probably counted this bird in many
circumstances, but I pressed on and at the next stop I found several birds
at the next few stops, none of which showed any visible trace of Townsend
genes that I could find.

Capitol Forest was very birdy as expected. Other nice birds for the morning
included MacGillivray's Warbler, several flyby Evening Grosbeaks, a singing
Hutton's Vireo, and a heard-only Northern Pygmy-Owl.

Hermit Warbler was not only a new state bird for me, but it was also my
40th warbler species of the year (not counting the taxonomically
questionable Yellow-Breasted Chat, or a "Brewster's"
Golden-Winged/Blue-Winged hybrid). This past winter, with a couple of good
trips on the horizon I did the math and figured I might have a shot at this
reaching 40.

My push started pretty poorly as I dipped twice on wintering Palm Warblers
in Renton and Seattle, but from there it was all up. A trip to southern
California in March produced a singing Lucy's Warbler in their small and
shrinking western outpost in Borrego Springs California.

In late April I spent a week in Texas, splitting my time between the High
Island area and the Lower Rio Grand Valley. High Island was, overall, a bit
slow for passerine migrants, but one perfect afternoon thunderstorm brought
us a very good evening of drop ins. My only major warbler misses were birds
I was pretty confident I'd be able to see a few weeks later in North

A side-note to anyone thinking about a Texas trip: planning a trip to High
Island and then deciding to add a side-trip to south Texas is roughly the
same as saying, "As long as I'm in Seattle I should probably do some
birding in Grants Pass, Oregon. Oh and I should do all the driving at night
so I don't miss any good birding." That said, the LRGV leg of my trip went
better than I had any right to expect when I planned it so I have no
regrets. I picked up both a long-staying Painted Redstart at a rest stop 90
minutes north of the valley and a singing Tropical Parula (ABA #500)
at Anzalduas Park in Mission, TX. The absolute highlight of the trip, and
likely my birding year, came two days later when I was able to refind a
Slate-Throated Redstart that appeared on South Padre Island.

A week after returning home from Texas I flew to Charlotte, NC for work for
two weeks. Here I picked up lots of warblers I'd managed to miss by a few
minutes at High Island (Prothonotary, Blackpoll, Canada) and lots of
others. The highlight of the trip was a day spent birding the Blue Ridge
Mountains area around Asheville where I managed to see 15 species of of
warblers in a day, only two of which normally occur in WA. I highly
recommend a visit to this area during breeding season if you ever get a
chance. Along with all the warblers (including Swainson's, Worm-Eating, and
Cerulean) that occur in summer, birds like Alder Flycatcher, Yellow-Billed
Cuckoo, Scarlet Tanager, and Blue-Headed Vireo are relatively easy to find
and most of the birding can be done from within a few yards of paved roads.

After driving out to find breeding Golden-Winged Warblers at the eastern
tip of Tennessee (I had one GWWA at High Island, but it was seen so poorly
as to make me question the ID) I came home from NC needing only
Macgillivray's and Hermit Warblers to hit 40. MacGillivray's was an easy
get on Monday and the Hermit today put me over the top.

I never did see a Palm Warbler.

There's a few photos on my flickr page, however many/most of the warbler
photos have been too grainy/blurry to be worth posting.

Josh Adams
Lynnwood, WA
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