January Warblin'

There's a neat phenomenon that occurs in small areas around the Northeast.  My first encounter with it was when I had read that Cave Swallows are found by a water treatment plant in Philadelphia all winter long.  Cave Swallows?  ...and other more common swallows?  Shouldn't they be long gone in the Winter?

It turns out that the water stays warm enough to keep insects above the tanks active through the colder months.  In turn, this attracts and sometimes keeps straggling insect-eaters in the vicinity all year long.

Across the river from me in Trenton, there is a water treatment facility - just like the one I became privy to in Philly.  It's a fantastic set-up for birding.  There is one thin strip of trees, a road along them where a birder can walk and scan, another thin row of trees, and then water tanks.  It has become a favorite spot of mine, not only for the odd Winter-stragglers, but because the birds are so close and you get amazing looks!

I had an hour to kill yesterday and with the Philadelphia Eagles season in the dumpster, decided I'd spend some time seeing who was still hanging around.  It turned out to be incredible!  Both species of kinglets, and SEVEN warblers.  Yes, seven - on January 3rd.  What a treat!  *Warning - some pictures I'm about to share, outright suck, but I'm posting them anyway as confirmation on yesterday's warbler-fest.

First the kinglets.  These photos are from a few weeks ago and I was so happy with them and so enthralled with the warblers, that I didn't bother photographing them this time.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

While I scanned for warblers, multiple gulls, a Bald Eagle, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a flock of Snow Geese flew overheard.

Snow Geese

Ok... here's the warblers!

Yellow-rumped Warbler - there's more than a dozen here.

Yellow-throated Warbler - while this is an amazing Winter bird, he has been here for over a month.  I hate saying I wasn't surprised to see him, but I wasn't.  That doesn't mean I wasn't delighted!

Pine Warbler - there are usually a few here, and for whatever reason, none came close enough for a decent photo.


Palm Warbler - I saw two different palms, but none came out for a decent photo.

Yellow Warbler - this was a huge surprise!  It skulked in and out of the chain link fence.

Orange-crowned Warbler - in my defense, he literally sat there for 1.5 seconds and I just missed the focus and hit the twig in front of him.  *I will try again.  I waited two hours, and he didn't come back out.  I played a chip note to get him out in the first place and didn't want to overdo it.

Nashville Warbler - my thrill of the day as this is these are the best photos I have gotten of a Nashville.  They are always so high.

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

As you can see, this place is special.  I also saw a Brown Creeper (which seems to show up every time) and some other common birds.  In the past I have had late swallows, woodpeckers including Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and even a flock of pipits.  I'll be back - at least for another shot at a decent photo of the Orange-crowned Warbler, but also to see if anything else special shows up.

...step into the outdoors.