Blackpoll and Chestnut-sided Warblers at Sweetwater Wetlands 11/15/09


The onslaught of vagrants continued at Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, with two impressive new arrivals: Blackpoll and Chestnut-sided Warblers. The Blackpoll found by Justin Jones on the 14th, decidedly the rarer of the two with just over a dozen records in southeast Arizona, was the first bird Jerry Bock and I looked for after arriving at Sweetwater after a short walk along the Santa Cruz River. The river walk produced a few interesting birds including unseasonal sightings of Osprey and Northern Rough-winged Swallow and a calling Eastern Meadowlark with the more expected Westerns. Our walk at Sweetwater began auspiciously when I noticed an American White Pelican in the distance gliding away from us. We soon made our way to the crowd of other birders searching for the Blackpoll. With so many eyes, we soon were able to glass the rare eastern vagrant. I managed to obtain a few marginal shots of this rare, but drab fall-plumaged warbler (sorry folks, but it looks so much snazzier in alternate plumage!) as it entertained the assembled throng.


Head-on view of the Blackpoll Warbler

A side view showing wing detail

A view of the back


We walked back to where Rick Taylor found the Chestnut-sided Warbler and soon were on this sharp bird thanks to Will Russell's sharp eyes. While more confiding than the Blackpoll, it sure did move around a lot while I tried to photograph it. The nerve!


Chestnut-sided Warbler with distinctive cocked tail


After a satisfying experience, we decided to make a loop around Sweetwater. Some highlights include the continuing Black-and White-warbler, a single Ruddy Ground-Dove (increasing in Arizona?) on the lawn at Roger Road which is across the road from Sweetwater, another look at the Osprey, and a Northern Harrier. We ended the day with 10 species of warblers and a total of 96 species before noon. Not bad for urban birding in November! Jerry made another swing out to Sweetwater later that day, bringing his total to 105.

Good Birding,
Keith Kamper
Senior Guide
www.adventurebirding.com

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