Friday, October 15, 2010

Connecticut Warbler and White-rumped Sandpiper at Falls Lake

I went out this morning to Falls Lake with Robert Meehan, the man who discovered the Connecticut Warbler a week ago, with pretty low expectations. The bird hadn't been reported for about 48 hours and it had been 7 days since Robert's original discovery.

Against all odds we flushed it from the sedge along the lake side of the peninsula and then spent a good hour following it through the thickets losing it and re-finding it. I tried to get some pictures, but the thing always seems to keep at least two or three layers of vegetation between it and any observers. I have a hard time focusing through dense stuff with my point-and-shoot, so this is the best I could do.
We came up empty on our first sweep along the path and with no sign of any Palm Warblers we assumed that the Connecticut was long gone. So we went further out to check for lingering shorebirds. Surprisingly we found 2 Least Sandpipers, a Dunlin and a White-rumped Sandpiper, which we thought would end up being our consolation prize for missing the Connecticut. The best part was that these birds had apparently been feeding on sedatives and let us walk right up to within 15 feet of them without ever taking flight.

It was probably the best closest look at shorebirds I've ever had anywhere and the White-rumped was my 215th NC bird!

Back to the main celebrity though...

When looking for the Connecticut, definitely check all the sedge (tall grassy stuff) along the shoreline. This is where we first flushed it and where we found it again later after losing it. We also stumbled upon a Marsh Wren this way (a life bird for Robert!)

Seven days seems like quite a long time for a migrant to stick around and Robert and I could only foolishly wonder if it might stick around to winter. I'm sure other folks will be checking up on it this weekend.

I'm going to end with a re-posting of my link to the birds of La Hesperia. I added 14 awesome pictures by Peter Capobianco (the same guy who shot the Cerulean Warbler nesting video) of some really cool birds like Toucan Barbet, Flame-faced Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Red-headed Barbet, etc. They are all right at the beginning for easy viewing.

And finally here's an HD video of the White-rumped Sandpiper from today. Sorry for the wind noise! And you may want to skip ahead to 40 seconds when the Least Sandpiper shows up for good size comparison. Also around 53 seconds the bird ruffles its feathers briefly exposing its white rump.


  1. With Scott's much-appreciated assistance in locating the site, I went out early this morning to try my luck at finding the Connecticut. I first saw it (albeit fleetingly) about halfway between the Corona bottles. A group of fishermen walked by and scared it away, but Robert and a couple other birders soon arrived to help me track it down. At one point, it sat cooperatively for a good minute or two, allowing great looks. Beautiful!

    Scott is correct that, when not on the run from eager birders, it does seem to prefer the thick reddish grass at the edge of the banks. It also briefly passed the second Corona bottle, but did not seem willing to linger.

  2. Another email comment re-post:

    Really appreciate the video of the White-rumped! And
    wasn't the Least obliging to walk into the frame for
    size comparison. Thanks, Scott.
    Ginger Travis
    Orange Co., NC

  3. Howdee Scott
    I have come over from Birdingblogs.come where you commented
    First of all Great post...congrats on the Ct and white rumped! Do you know Nathan Swick who lives in Raleigh area? The Drinking Bird is his blogs title.
    He also saw the CT warbler. Same one? If you dont read his blog you should.

    You have a great blog here..I would suggest you join the Nature Blog network. They would put this blog under there birding blog section.
    I know you will be approved as a member.
    Nate is also part of the Nature Blog Network and is also writing for the 10,000 Birds blog..
    You should also read that blog if you dont already.
    Take Care
    Happy Birding..
    If you need any more help contact me over at or my own blog