The weather forecast filled me with a blackness darker than all the fingernail polish in all the Hot Topics in all the malls in all the world.
Rain Saturday. Rain Sunday. On the first weekend in May. Why, oh why? Alas!
At least, the imp of the perverse told me, you can sleep in Saturday.
So it was that I woke up at nine-thirty Saturday morning and was immediately horrified by what I didn’t hear. I leaped out of bed and looked out the window. And lo – it was NOT raining!
“I have to go birding,” I called to the Inimitable Todd, who hid his head under a pillow and grumbled a bit because he thought the weather meant that he might actually get to see his girlfriend for once. I bolted some coffee and was soon on that train and gone.
Although the Ravine didn’t offer me any surprise life birds this time out, it was clear that migration was fully locked and loaded. Thrushes were back with a vengeance, Grey Catbirds were ramping up towards their summertime omnipresence, and everywhere the songs of Yellow-rumped Warblers resounded from the trees. Black-and-White and Black-throated Blue Warblers were also present in numbers, and a single Blue-winged Warbler popped up briefly. But I had my mind on something special.
The Hooded Warbler joined my life list last year. But seeing one in Prospect Park was still a treat I didn’t want to miss. So I headed down the Midwood and peered into the trees…
…Just as the promised rain began. But it was a mere spritz, and I perservered. “The rain,” I thought, “will push the birds down!”
And lo. As I stared up into the drizzle, a yellow bird with a black chin darted towards me, and the Hooded Warbler perched directly over my head and sang a few bars before it fluttered away.
I stood for a bit and savored my luck, watching the Warbler hop around the canopy, but the rain was getting worse. It was now 11:45. At noon, the Audubon Boathouse, offering a nice dry roof, a snack bar, and perhaps most importantly a restroom, would open to the public. But that was fifteen minutes off, and water kept dropping out of the sky onto me in a very disconcerting way.
Fortunately, the trees have sufficient foliage now to do a bit of weather-breaking. I was able to shelter beneath a convenient shrub and watch my first of season Veery foraging. When the water started leaking through, I moved on to another, thicker spot and saw a small brown bird get scared away by two raucous Robins fighting… only for it to recover itself and hop up onto a branch where it was clearly revealed as a House Wren singing a lovely House Wren song. And eventually the rain let up, and I made my way down to the boathouse and stepped inside to avail myself of the facilities.
And when I came out again it was beautiful, and would continue being beautiful for the rest of the afternoon. Which was good, because I had lots more to see. An iridescent Green Heron hiding in plain sight along the edge of the Lullwater, waiting for an unwary fish. A Northern Waterthrush trying and failing to perch on a floating yellow ball. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, male and female. Eastern Towhees, ditto. A Scarlet Tanager sitting resplendently near the top of Lookout Hill and a male Black-throated Green Warbler likewise. Trees full of Baltimore Orioles. My first (and second, and third, and fourth) of season Common Yellowthroats. A lingering Palm Warbler and a small flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Northern Parula. Red-tailed Hawks.
And, yeah, a flock of seven(!) American Crows. I know at least some of you have been wondering ever since you read the title.