Connecticut Warbler at McCabe Nature Preserve

Early this afternoon I found a Connecticut Warbler at McCabe Nature Preserve (eBird checklist). I think this is the first record for the preserve, which is located just outside of Milton, Delaware. I had high hopes of landing a Nashville Warbler or Blue-headed Vireo for my Delaware year list, but had no expectation of finding a Connecticut Warbler (CONW). The bird wasn’t acting like a textbook CONW (you know, skulky and hard to see), but was straight up chillin’ on bare branches in a young hardwood stand. Who goes out to find a Nashville Warbler and finds a Connecticut Warbler? Anyway, I don’t have much time to write so here are the photos.

The next three photos are a bit overexposed, but still get the job done.

In Search of Migrants

For the past couple of weeks, Kyle Horton and I have been searching for the perfect migrant spot in southern Delaware. We’ve tried Cape Henlopen State Park, various local parks in Lewes, Rehobeth, and Milton, the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies campus, the local Kmart parking lot, and a nice piece of Nature Conservancy land this evening. Every morning and night we are checking the radar and weather patterns (radar at Nemesis Bird) to try and predict bird movements. Also, we are occasionally listening for flight calls throughout the night and have had a few excellent nights and mornings.

Fall migration is definitely upon us in southern Delaware and may have peaked already, but we are not finding the birds. Despite our efforts, we are dipping incredibly hard on flocks of migrants. We have come across five to ten species of warblers on a few days, but our counts are usually less than five species. We’ve tried early successional habitat, scrub-shrub, edges of fields, and mixed hardwood forests and have come up with barely any noteworthy results.

Thrushes are a different story. We’ve heard several Veery and Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked Thrushes flying over throughout the night and have not found a single migrant thrush in the area. We even looked on eBird and there are almost no reports of Catharus in southern Delaware. I’ve experienced the same phenomena in central Pennsylvania with thrushes. There would be hundreds of thrush calls just before sunrise, but then we could not locate any on the ground. At least Scotia was awesome for warblers.

Where are we going wrong? What should we do? Where should we look? Are there any Delawarians out there that could provide some insight or a solution to our problem? I haven’t even grabbed a nasty shot of a warbler yet this fall. This is the best I have done:

Prairie Warbler at the University of Delaware in Lewes, Delaware on 9-24-2012

Please post in the comments if you have any suggestions or tips for birding migration in southern Delaware. Thanks!