I went back to the Bent of the River Audubon sanctuary this morning to check up on May's progress. The trees have really started to leaf out over the past few days, and the explosion of diversity is only getting more intense!
A slew of warblers were flitting around in the woods and among blooming apple trees, many of them different from the cast of characters who lit up these woods last week. A gorgeous male Magnolia Warbler came close enough for a few pictures:
He mostly hung around just over my head, but I was happy to admire his fancy costume from below:
This fellow was exhibiting some excellent hunting skills, peering under leaves and around branches for tasty bugs:
And every few seconds he came up with a morsel, often a small caterpillar:
A few whacks against a branch, and then the caterpillar was gone (yum), and it was on to the next meal:
A male Common Yellowthroat (aptly named) was hunting in these trees as well:
Blue-winged Warblers foraged in a flowering tree in the fields (this bird even has bands on its legs):
And I was happy to come across a female Black-throated Blue Warbler as she worked her way through the undergrowth:
An American Restart (yet another warbler) was fluttering around in the woods:
With all that gray and yellow, I assumed at first that this was a female redstart, but those black splotches on the face and chest make this (I believe) a second-year (i.e., one year old) male. He won't get his adult black and orange breeding costume until the fall, but apparently he might still find a mate and breed this year. Well, good luck, splotchy bird!
There were plenty of other creatures besides warblers, of course. I was surprised to see a few White-throated Sparrows still around, since I expected these birds to have left for their northern breeding territories by now:
A pair of Black-capped Chickadees were busy excavating a nest cavity in an old log, and I watched them come in and out with beaks (and faces) full of sawdust:
Digging through wood is a messy job!
One of my favorite discoveries this spring is that Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are super common at Bent of the River (whereas I see them only rarely everywhere else). This female grosbeak was selecting twigs for a nest this morning:
And I came across a male grosbeak as he puffed and preened after a late morning bath. I had no idea that Rose-breasted Grosbeaks also have rose-colored armpits, but there you go!
Shake it out, gorgeous bird!
Most of the early spring flowers have now faded in the woods, but new flowers like this Jack in the Pulpit are taking their place:
And this Black Rat Snake (so identified by its black and white checkered belly) found a cool resting spot in this nest box several feet up a tree. Could it have found a meal inside the box as well?
How exciting that -- with the Northern Black Racer of a couple weeks ago -- I've now seen Connecticut's two large black snakes in this same place. And the array of birds (especially warblers) continues to astound.
Hooray for diversity!