Puddle Bouncing

It would appear as I am easing into November!  I’d blame it on the laid back life of a retired person, but truth is I am probably busier now than I was when I was living the daily grind.  Actually, coming up on my one year anniversary of my last day at work (not my retirement date thanks to strategic use of my vacation time).  I can say the replacement “work” is far more enjoyable and usually consists of spending time in our woods, running, building Halloween props and pouring through thousands of images in my massive backlog of photography trips.  Cannot remember the last time I called it a night when I wasn’t completely exhausted – I take that as a win.  Part of this drive is due to a deadline and this post gets me one step closer to that end. 

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Honestly, deadline may not be the appropriate word now that I’m in the last phase of my life and technically there is only one of those technically left and that is literally in the name. Let’s go with “goal” instead – much better sounding and at least in the sports world, traditionally paired with people cheering when you accomplish it – yep, whole letter better. Don’t get me wrong, goals are serious business around Intrigued and I’m no stranger to medical attention trying to insure I don’t fail. Luckily, this particular one will not require that kind of physical commitment, as it simply means several more of these.

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Not specifically more of these Waterthrushes, rather more of what it represents, a new addition to my personal birding list. Back in January of this year I committed to the goal of getting my life list up to 300. Not a number that is going to turn any heads in the birding world for sure – probably illicit more snickers than applause. It is what it is and hang my hat on the small hook made from the fact the species needs to be photographed and get its own official post before the tick is awarded. Question remains whether there are 9 more after this to get me across the finish line. That’s a future issue, let’s live in the moment.

Hit the jump to put the moment in motion.

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Those keeping score at home may be checking their game card and crying foul about now. Clearly Bri has a Waterthrush already and it wasn’t even that long ago he was gloating about his latest capture at Dauphin Island (link here). That is absolutely true and that wasn’t even the first time I had written about the Louisiana Waterthrush (link here). Fortunately for me, there’s another Waterthrush in North America and that is the Northern Waterthrush or as I used to refer to it as , the $@#%!@$#%!@ elusive Waterthrush due to the difficulties in finding it. (Note, there are a lot of birds in the $@#%!@$#%!@ family.

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

It finally took a drive down to Dauphin Island this year to meet this relatively dull looking member of the Warbler family – like the Louisiana, this one is also NOT a Thrush. It probably self-identifies with the similarly colored Thrushes as it lacks the bold coloring of most of the New World Warblers. Not to tip my hand too far, but you just might get to do a direct comparison soon – ’nuff said. As much as Thrush in the name is a misnomer, the pairing of “Water” is spot..err…streak on in this case. Want to find one of these, find the closet puddle, swamp or small moving creek/stream.

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

Unlike their brethren, the Louisiana, this species does not like fast moving water. Admittedly, I did not know that little tidbit of behavior until a fellow birder and his son educated me on that differentiator while Ron and I were exploring the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on the island. In fact, that is the same duo that alerted us to the Fish Crows per my previous post (link here). Kudos to Ron for engaging those birders as it led to that plus 1, this plus 1 (and shhhhh, another one). We were heading over to the Fish Crow hangout when we spotted a Waterthrush bouncing (yes, they ass-bob) in the water of the flooded path. I asked him if he happened to know what type while assuming the default answer.

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

He brought out his binoculars and responded “not sure, but purely based on being in a puddle, I’d say a Northern”. That brought up a number of clarifying questions from me as I quickly brought the Beast on target (the first couple of shots were of that puddle bobber). A valuable piece of information I have permanently stored for future field use. Now, it isn’t absolute as the Louisiana in the recent post was hanging out in a small stream, but it was a fallout so it probably took whatever it spotted first. It was a perfect for fit for my next encounter back at Shell Mound. These latter shots were at a marshy spot recently charged with the week of rain they experienced before we got there. If it wasn’t for the eye grabbing ass-bobbing I might not have seen it thanks to how naturally camouflaged they are in the muck and reeds.

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

For years and years I was always puzzled as to the field differences between the Downy (link here) and the Hairy Woodpecker (link here) entirely due to not having truly witnessed the Hairy. Now that I have seen the larger species, I can easily distinguish them in the field. Same applies to the Louisiana and the Northern. Not having the experience of the latter, I was constantly hoping everyone I saw was a Northern. Having seen each one now, I can fairly easily rule one out over the other with the choice of water and two additional field characteristics. The Northern is buffier in color vs the whiter Louisiana. Pair that up with the streaking on the neck and overall heavier breast streaking and you will have a tip to the Northern. Cornell mentions that the eyebrow on the Louisiana is wider at the back than the Northern, but that is pretty much useless in the field. Hell, use the comparison tool on Cornell’s site and try to tell that difference (link here).

Northern Waterthrush found at Dauphin Island, Alabama in April 2021

In contrast to the lower half streaking, the top of the head through the back is a solid brown. I do like the pinkish legs they both sport – a small consolation prize for being in the back of the line when the rest of the Warblers were getting their royal clothing – “Sorry out of yellows, oranges and chestnuts – here, have some pink stockings”. Not really much to offer in tidbits beyond what I scattered above beyond their region is predictably northern. The Louisiana will push up to its breeding ground to upper Iowa and east where the Northern travels all the way up into New England and the expanse of Canada.

I’ll put a bow on it there.  Hope you enjoyed the latest addition to the bird list.  Will have to check the Vegas odds and see what the line looks like for pulling out 9 more before the end of the year.

2 thoughts on “Puddle Bouncing”

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