This morning, I drove myself up to the Williams Center Green that I've heard so much about in recent weeks.  I'm afraid I was singularly _UN_impressed by it; the only activity I saw was by Grackles, Starlings, and Mourning Doves.  Disappointed but not to be deterred, I decided to swing by Woodward Park before going home for my Sunday nap.  I parked the car, turned off the engine, picked up my binocs, and then noticed a spot-breasted bird hop-hop-hoppin' along the ground with a flock of Robins, just beyond the hood of my car.  I thought at first it was a baby Robin until I noticed the yellow "spectacles" around its eyes:  Swainson's Thrush!!  Out-in-the-open on the ground isn't the first place I would've looked for a Swainson's Thrush, but I was pleased to see it anyway.

     I strolled down the hill, finding Nashville Warbler and American Redstart (yearbird!) all by myself (by ear, no less!! and then confirmed what I heard with my eyes), for which I'm pretty proud because I think warbler songs are even harder to learn than those of sparrows!!  For one thing, we only hear the warbler songs for a few weeks each year and then they're gone; at least the sparrows come and stay a while.

     Met another Tulsa birder who said there was a Wilson's Warbler in the tree right above where I was standing but I never found it.... altho' I looked.  I did find a bunch of Brown Thrashers (hunting in pairs close to the ground, all around the azalea gardens), an unusually quiet male Common Yellowthroat, a whole slew of noisy Goldfinches, and a Gray Catbird that perched in a tree right by me and sang, whistled, and twittered for a good little while.  After a bit, I noticed
George and Marty Kamp walkin' down the hill toward me and for the rest of my stay at Woodward, we birded together.

     I think it was Phil Floyd who observed in one of his Edge of the Earth stories that birders are perhaps the only humans alive who aren't offended if, when they're talking to other birders, the other birders (who should be listening and probably are) turn this way and that, looking at movement in the nearby trees and bushes.  It's funny about birding with friends; you chatter about what you've been seeing and hearing and looking for, but as often as not while we're talking, all 3 of us are turning in different directions, scanning bushes and trees, looking for something we thought we saw or heard.

     And then sometimes, you find the thing you thought you saw.  Today, I thought I saw a Robin perch briefly in a small tree.  Then the bird turned profile to me and I called out, "Swainson's Thrush.... no, wait a minute; NO spectacles!"  I asked Marty, "Do we get Gray-cheeked Thrush here??"  Marty got her glasses on it, then called George on her walkie-talkie to confirm ID on a Gray-cheeked Thrush.  Gray, no "spectacles," no distinct cheek/malar marks like the Swainson's, breast spots rather dull and almost streaky.  Yep, that's what it was:  Gray-cheeked Thrush, a yearbird and a new bird for me for Tulsa County and Oklahoma.  George worked his way over to where Marty and I continued looking for the bird after it flew but alas, we never found it again.

     Eventually, we moseyed back up to the cars where Marty brought out a dead Nashville Warbler they'd found and wrapped in a hanky.  They're so small, but so beautiful, the way the greenish feathers lay across its back and trim each tail feather, how brilliantly yellow the breast feathers are, and as it was not moving, we could see the reddish crown feathers, too.  Poor little thing! but what a good look at it.

     Then Marty noticed the same Tulsa birder I'd met earlier---and altho' I'm not good with remembering names, I think she said his name is Jim Hoffman.  Anyway, we walked over toward where he and a couple other birders were looking up into a stand of pecan trees, Marty ahead of us.  I started after her, then George called my attention to a Black-throated Green Warbler singing in a nearby tree.  Then Marty called, "we've got a Blackburnian over here!!"  Good grief! Black-throated Green or Blackburnian?  Decisions, decisions..... and in the end, I heard the Black-throated Green singing clearly and decided to hustle over to the pecan trees so as not to miss the Blackburnian Warbler.  And George and I, coming up from a distance, got great looks at the Blackburnian in the tops of those pecan trees while Marty, who was standing under the trees and looking straight up, couldn't see it.  (But eventually she did.)  The trees were also _filled_ with Orange-crowned, Yellow, and Nashville Warblers, and Clay-colored Sparrows (another yearbird for me).  I tell ya, for a few minutes there, we had a regularly little "warbler wave" goin' for us!!  I figured out that these pecan trees have the same green "pods" hanging down that the one tree at my apartment has where I've seen and heard Orange-crowned, Yellow, and Nashville Warblers singing these last two days.  (I don't do trees, y'understand....)  In fact, a Nashville Warbler is singing from that very tree here at the apartment, even as I write this!

     We found a couple Empidonax flycatchers, one with hardly any eye-ring, another with a pronounced eye-ring, both with bold wingbars, neither with much color on its belly.  But the birds were feeding incognito today---no calls whatsoever, so I don't know what they were.

     Finally, my back couldn't stand the pain of standing and staring straight up into the trees so I hobbled back to my car to leave.  The Swainson's Thrush was still "grazing" with the Robins, right where I'd left it earlier.
Cowabunga, dude!!
...ridin' the warbler wave

May 12, 2002
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