Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Tennessee Waltz...

Yesterday morning (Tue) I went down to the estuary, and there had obviously been a bit of movement as the big oak, and immediate area, was alive with warblers. Several yellow warblers, 2 Wilson's warblers, a couple of yellow-rumped and a few orange-crowned.
Also there was a curious little warbler that caught my eye... my first thoughts were that it might be some very pale, washed out orange-crowned, maybe a 1st year bird. But I have absolutely no idea whether birds hatched last year, retain a juv plumage or indeed, if they do, whether they would bother moving north until in breeding plumage.
Anyhoo - as I watched this interesting critter I noticed that it had a tendency to feed in the lower vegetation around the base of the tree, as opposed to all the other birds, which were feeding in and around the canopy. Its jizz reminded me of a phyllosc.    
On the whole it resembled an orange-crowned but for the following things: very pale off-white undertail coverts, a clear eyestripe (creating a pale supercillium effect), a pale yellow wash restricted to the breast and greyish head, contrasting with the olivey upperparts. My thoughts were, that it was possibly a female Tennessee warbler.
Now, I have since been informed by Derrick Marven that 1st year non-breeders do return in spring & look pale and washed out, and having since done some reading on the matter, I am no less, or more, confused! These avian beasts can lead one a merry dance...
I also hadn't realised quite how scarce Tennessee warbler is on the island, which of course doesn't preclude it from being one but does make it less likely. Had it been a male Tenn. then, it wouldn't have been a problem - however, I'm going to have to scrutinize more of these atypical orange-crowneds and see if I can find more that looked like this bird! Oh, what fun...!

Other birds noted through the fug of confusion included: downy woodpecker, northern harrier & 2 peregrines hunting waders over the estuary.
A racoon was along Raines Road (my first here) and later 2 band-tailed pigeons (my first of the year) were near the Nanaimo River bridge.    

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