I took a stroll on the Western Waterfront Trail today, knowing it would be thick with warblers and knowing I’d have the usual problem identifying any of them.
This is how it usually goes: I spot a warbler. It plays peek-a-boo with me, flitting from branch to branch, mostly hidden behind leaves. I keep my binoculars focused on it, gradually getting a pretty good idea of what it looks like. I reach into the bird book, narrow it down to two or three possibilities and decide what I need to look for — white on the rump, say, or a black line across the eye — to make a certain identification.
And the bird has flown.
I was getting frustrated with that pattern today, and I was running out of time. Finally, I tried pishing. This is when you make a sound — pish, pish, pish, pish — softly and repeatedly, that is said to draw warblers.
This has never worked for me, at least not very well.
To my astonishment, it did work today. Two warblers came to me as if they were on leashes, landed on the nearest tree — which wasn’t very leafed out — and gave me several good looks.
It was the narrow black cap that helped me determine the bird was a Wilson’s warbler … a bird I’ve never seen before. Finally, my first "lifer" of 2009.
They came so close that I thought I might even be able to get a picture. I "pished" again, but they were more circumspect this time. I took a picture anyway, and if you look VERY closely, you can see one of the Wilson’s in about the middle of the frame: