Monday, May 11, 2009

Secretive Birds of Swamp and Saltmarsh

We've been so busy birding during a fabulous spring migration that we haven't been blogging about our birding!

So it seems hard to believe a week has passed since we headed down to southern Maryland with our good friend Ross Geredien in search of the elusive (in Maryland, anyway) Swainson's Warbler.

Swainson's Warbler is such a rare breeder in this state, if indeed it still breeds here, that we don't want to say precisely where we were. But it looked like this:

Yup. Good ol' Cypress Swamp. Muck, insects, thorns, heat, sweat. It doesn't get any better than this. We weren't daunted in the least, and headed with our waders deep into the heart of the swamp. Warren's overboots soon began to leak. We temporarily lost our way. Thank God for GPS!!

Alas, we never did find our quarry--Mr. Swainson probably heard us coming miles away. But we did of course see some really cool birds, like this Summer Tanager:

Prothonatary Warblers called all around us, and occasionally came into view:

Ross and Princess wore the right footwear:

Warren did not. These went into the first dumpster we saw post-adventure:

We had spent a (short) night at the Irish Grove sanctuary, an idyllic and historic property owned by the Maryland Ornithological Society. After our morning adventure, it was time for a quick nap, and then back out to find more birds in the nearby marsh of Somerset County.

These were trick-sy in their own way - rails calling from deep in the marsh, sparrows playing hide and seek in the reeds. Seaside Sparrow was one of three life birds on the trip, a fairly common but elusive fellow we'd missed in the past:

If that wasn't enough, Ross found a Sharp-Tailed Saltmarsh Sparrow and gave us great looks in the scope before he had to head home. Thanks, Ross! This was the best pic Warren could get:

Then were off to the beach for more birds. More adventure. More fun.


Albert said...

I've driven by the Cypress Swamp nearly every weekend for the boy's soccer games and I have yet to actually stop in. I have some really great memories of the cypress swamps in Louisiana and East Texas. I'm sure its not the same here.
I also had a short stint at Blackwater NWR and did get to roam alone through thigh high water with cattails. Yes a GPS is an amazing piece of tech.

Dawn Fine said...

Great birdies...I look forward to more of the adventure..Jeff and I left NC a week and half later than we are high tailing it to Bombay hook for a few days then to Cape May..we are presently overnighting in a Walmart parking lot in Bowie, Md is that near you?

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

dAwN - That is very near us, just 15 miles away. We are sorry we didn't get the chance to mmet.

Let us know what you see at Bombay Hook - one of our favorites!

- W and L

Kathie Brown said...

I HEARD the Swainson's Warbler in WV. Does that count? Bill of the Birds actually located it for those who went on the Swainson's Warbler trip. I was on a different one and only heard about the sighting, but we did hear one call numerous times at Babcock State Park. Looks and sounds like you 2 had fun anyways!