Chairman of the Board

I now know what my hell would be like – plenty of downtime, but NO internet.  We just got back from UKC Premier held in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Basically Dog-A-Palooza as there were dogs competing everywhere you looked, prissy confirmation dogs in the midst of working dogs – dock diving, luring coursing, precision coursing, drag racing, weight pulling, nose work, obedience, rally and our specialty agility.  A lot going on, but huge gaps between Linda’s runs which I usually fill with posts… granted I have decent access.  What’s gives Kalamazoo, still relying on two cups and a string?  Instead, being in Michigan, decided to ponder who has the worst governor.  Both our governor and Michigan’s used pandemic as an excuse to destroy their economies (ours to get federal bailout for systemic fiscal failures, Gretchen tried to be VP).  Both felt they were above the lockdown protocols they forced on their constituents (after trying to lock us down, our governor sent his family to Florida and then Wisconsin, Gretchen went to Florida with her daughters).  Both are habitual liars except Gretchen can’t stop doubling down after being caught in lie after lie about her trip.  Ours is a tax evader and Gretchen is so vindictive she repeatedly goes after a barber even though their state judicial system clipped her.  Honestly, I can’t decide – looks like the only option is to head to the polls.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Blackpoll Warblers that is! ILL-noise is way too far gone to fix the political corruption – there actually might be more Illinois governors now that have served time than those that managed to weasel their way out without being caught. Michigan, you are on your own up there. The good news is Warblers could care less about our politics. Assume they worry more about how to complete their migrations every year. The Blackpoll pictured here is one of those that put my distance running to shame. Imagine having to fly nonstop from the eastern coasts all the way to South American every fall. Interesting enough, Cornell noted that they take a less intense spring trek opting to pass through the Caribbean Islands before heading to Canada and Alaska.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our long distance flier.

This specific specimen comes to you from another find at Dauphin Island. We were birding an incredible site referred to as Indian Shell Mound Park. From the Alabama Indigenous Mound Trail site (link here), archeological excavation identified this as a prehistoric settlement area dating back some 4500 to 3200 years ago. Today it is clearly a meeting grounds for thousands of migrating Warblers and eager birdophiles.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

We made or way there several times and experienced incredible birding on all visits. 18 acres of varying habitats acting as magnets to any Warbler making their way through. Lush vegetation, varying maturity of trees, ponds and babbling brooks/springs providing everything they need to fuel up for the rest of their journey north. This particular specimen was a bit of a surprise.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

We were taking pictures of a Waterthrush (yep, it is in the queue) at a small brook in the middle of the park. Horribly dark as the canopy was really thick causing a lot of internal cussing as it darted in and out of the rays of light that managed to push through darkness (tossed probably 4 out of every 5 shots as a result). All of sudden, a small whitish bird landed nearby – I swear it was trying to get my attention “screw that fake Thrush, take my picture!” Pointed out our new visitor to Ron and noted it looked different than the rest of the Warblers we had captured up to that point. Of course, now I am trying to take a picture of a white and dark bird in a bright and dark area (okay, that might be my real hell ha). Managed to get a few shots in the tin – can’t remember if Ron got the settings dialed in enough or not.

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Ron is the one that correctly ID’d the Warbler. A brand new one for the trip and more importantly an official +1 for me. I might have shots of a non-breeding specimen from Montrose from a few years back, but Ron and I still need to process those shots. I didn’t remember the Blackpoll being on the sighting’s board when we came in. On our way back we checked and confirmed – no Blackpoll sightings (checked the shots I took on the board from the other visits and it was missing in those as well). One of my first board adds ever – Ron even captured the exciting moment!

Blackpoll Warbler found at Shell Mound, Dauphin Island in April 2021

Just call me the chairman of the board hehehehe. Note, do not look at the other entries on the board or you will ruin the future post surprises (considered blurring those out, but decided to trust my readers … hey, stop looking).

As our time with this specimen was limited, I’m out of shots to share so better get to some interesting facts before calling it. The Blackpoll will lose its black cap in the fall and morph into a more yellow/green so common with the other Warblers (which is one of the reason it is taking Ron and I so long to get them identified from our other encounter). Cornell did quantify their migration distance as up to 1,800 miles which puts them in the top Warbler over water distance list – imagine these Warblers having to fly nonstop for 3 days. When they see Dauphin they probably look like I do when I finally see the finish line of an ultra trail run. After all that, they have to deal with us crazy birders trying to photograph them – maybe that bird was really yelling at me to “go away” – unfortunately, they can sing at 10,000hz which is way above my retired threshold (my frequency stops just below Linda’s honey do call frequency).

Take care everyone, hope you enjoyed my new entry on the bird list.

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