Hooded Warbler (Greer Spring Trail)

June 9, 2015

If you follow this blog, you know that exactly one year ago I took a three-hour trip down to the Greer Spring Trail in search of a tiny, stunning bird called the hooded warbler. Although I found my subject along the trail, I was frustrated by my inability to make a nice image due to thick brush and poor light. I promised to return a year later to try again, and this morning I fulfilled that promise.

I awoke about a minute before the alarm on my iPhone sounded at 3:15 a.m. and whispered to Joyce, my newly retired birding partner, that it was time to get up. Her response, “Oh crap…..that sucks,” didn’t surprise me as she was sleeping soundly, as usual. Our close birding friends, Bill and Brenda, were scheduled to arrive at 4:00 a.m. and we would all head south together in the 4Runner.

We were on the road, as scheduled, and by 5:30 a.m. we were at the Salem MacDonald’s stoking up on pancakes, oatmeal, and Egg McMuffins. Later, we continued south on Highway 19 toward Eminence, the longest 45 miles in Missouri, and finally made it to the Greer Spring Trail Head by 7:15 a.m. As we began the mile or so trek down the big hill toward the spring, I asked my campadres, “Well, do you think we’ll get a shot at a hooded warbler?” Ever positive, they replied, “Oh yeah — done deal!”

It wasn’t long before we found a nice-looking pair of wood thrushes and I had stopped along the trail to get some shots with my 500 mm lens as Bill directed me with his binoculars. A few moments later, we heard Brenda call out “hooded warbler” from farther down the trail and we knew it was game on! I folded up my tripod and skedaddled down the trail toward Brenda’s location. Upon arrival, I found the same situation as I had a year earlier, a hooded warbler flitting among the trees, only lighting for a second or less on each limb. The difference this year was much more open habitat so all I had to do was get a shot during one of those moments when the busy bird held still. The featured image, a striking male, showing off its black balaclava, was my best result.

After a bit of back slapping, and high fives, we proceeded on toward the spring. Along the way, we were delighted to observe a pair of Swainson’s warblers feeding their fledglings. The Swainson’s warbler is a rare summer resident, found only in the southernmost part of Missouri so we were gratified to see them caring for their young. They were in thick brush, so we just sat back and enjoyed the show with our binoculars. I have to give Bill credit for finding the Swainson’s warblers tending to their brood. He was pretty cool about it though. He was looking through his binoculars and I asked, “What are you looking at, Bill?” He said, “Oh, just a Swainson’s warbler feeding its babies,” in his most nonchalant voice.

As the day continued, we saw more birds and made a few more images, enjoyed some spring-side resting time, and finally headed back up the trail. Later we found ourselves at Bland’s Dairy Shack in Eminence refueling on burgers, shakes and onion rings. It was 1:30 p.m. by the time we made it to the lunch stop so we were all getting pretty hungry. The food at the Dairy Shack, by the way, was scrumptious!

So, my quest for the hooded warbler met with success this time and I hope the few images I made were only the first of many to come. I suppose our little day trip was so much fun, the hooded warbler image was only icing on the cake, as they say, but if I’m being honest here it was much more than that.

Thanks for looking,

DB

Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

8 comments on “Hooded Warbler (Greer Spring Trail)”

  1. Love receiving each and every Nature Frames. Your writing is always enjoyable and your photographs are stunning. This little guy is no exception! Thanks for sharing your adventures and talents.

  2. It was so worth your efforts. What a beautiful bird

  3. It’s wonderful when a plan comes together like that. I’m happy for you.

  4. I love the Hooded Warbler! (Did you know that both he and the Prothonotary Warbler are 5 1/2 inches long?) It was awesome to go with you on this adventure in search of this favorite warbler of mine. I knew we would find him that day. Thank you so much, Danny! Glad you got a good shot of him! I think I am going to have to add him to my collection of Danny Brown photos hanging in my house!


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