Fall Greetings!

This morning I stopped at a few places in several counties beginning in Wayne Co. at Lake Wappapello's Eagle Point Rec. Area overlook where as I stepped out of the truck a squawking Downy Woodpecker was fleeing for its life from an ensuing Merlin. The Downy made it to safety somehow as the Merlin broke off its pursuit and effortlessly glided over the overlook platform. That makes for a Merlin on two consecutive days; most definitely a first for me. Over the foggy/misty lake I was lucky enough to have a strong flying Peregrine pass in front of the overlook and continue southward over the dam. In the 1+ hour I was there, about 45 minutes was spent with my head on a swivel as seemingly flock after flock of warblers passed along the lake's edge beneath and in the trees on either side of the platform. A bird on note was a lone Red-breasted Nuthatch that seemed to be trying to fit in with the flock of warblers.

Once the action died down at about 9:35 am, I turned and headed to Mingo's Monopoly Marsh (still Wayne Co.) where things were considerably quiet. Looks like some of the water from recent rains has added a little back into the near dry marsh. More vegetation remains than does water. I only spent maybe 15 minutes at the Monopoly Marsh overlook platform when I left.

I then headed north to incorporate the northernmost section of Duck Creek CA Main Unit. This area is in Bollinger Co. There is a set of pools there for duck hunting that the recent construction activities should prove interesting for shorebirds at the right time and conditions, and I wanted to check to see if they were holding water - not yet. I then stopped in the section of Pine trees there on the "higher ground".

I thought it was a good choice to stop when first thing out of the truck I heard Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos calling along with several "Pikitucks" of Summer Tanagers. I walked down the two track about 35 feet and began scanning in the 70-80 feet tall Pine trees (as well as the shorter deciduous trees) for anything that was moving. I also heard the "veek" call of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and later saw a female in a tree top.

I observed several warbler species there: Black-and-white, Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green Warblers and Northern Parulas were the majority. I located movement behind the others and focused the binoculars on what I initially thought was a Yellow-throated Warbler. With its back to me, it was foraging on a pine branch and then work in to the pine needles in a perched fashion. When it moved to the next higher branch, it perched momentarily facing my direction where I saw not a yellow throat but a black throat. Its back was gray. Its face had black around the eye that extended to the back of the head. It had black streaks down its flanks with a white belly and undertail coverts as well as a strong white eyebrow (supercilium), a white horizontal stripe below the eye, and a black throat. It lacked any markings on the undertail coverts and lacked black and white striping on its back that might indicate a Black-and-white Warbler. The bill didn't appear as large as the nearby Black-and-white Warblers I had observed about 45 seconds earlier. The bird didn't forage like a Black-and-white Warbler either. At the time, I wouldn't allow myself to believe what I had just witnessed, only that it was not what I thought it was - a black-throated, Yellow-throated Warbler. Back at the truck, my Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern N.A. confirmed the observation to be a Black-throated Gray Warbler.

I watched the bird for only about 7 seconds before it moved off the limb deeper into the canopy vegetation and was obscured beyond further detection. I moved farther down the two-track in search of it but was unable to relocate it again. I went deeper into the woods to continue looking. As I departed that section of Pines about 10 minutes later, the loose flock with which it was associating was gone. The tree tops were silent and still. With the warbler flock movement I saw today, I don't think that this bird will stick around.

As a result of gentle prodding from a fellow birder, I'm posting this observation of the Black-throated Gray Warbler with the intent for those out and about pouring over the migrating warblers to not dismiss the Yellow-throated and/or Black-and-white Warbler (or any other species) that you're observing as your first decision for identification. Take that second look if time and situation warrant. Had I not waited to see the Yellow (lack thereof) in this bird's throat, it would have been marked down as a Yellow-throated Warbler.

A total of 56 species were observed at Duck Creek CA in just under 2 hours time: another species of which was a MO first for me, a first winter Connecticut Warbler. A "getting late" Worm-eating Warbler was also a nice surprise.

Documentation has been submitted to MBRC.

Bodacious Birding!

Chris Barrigar
Stoddard Co.
Bloomfield, MO
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"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."   JOHN MUIR

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