On September 6, 2010, near Athens, Ohio, I was out birding at around 8:30 in the morning when a small movement in the vines caught my attention. I had already seen some good warblers that morning (American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler; both life birds) and a few other good birds (Wood-peewees, vireos). Considering I had been up only since 8AM, this was a pretty good list for the day so far! This small wall of vines cascading and intertwining through branches of a large tree was not lit by the rising sun, so I stepped closer and lowered my camera's exposure, ready to track down this silent little bird. As soon as I saw that yellow breast and slate-blue head, I knew I had something unusual, and no doubt a Lifer. Unexperienced in all things warbly, I decided to skip the binos and just focus on getting a photo or two to bring back inside, in hopes of ID'ing him with a guide.
He seemed a bit shy but nevertheless let me get a quick but good look/ photo op. His complete white eye ring stood out in the shady vegetation. He 'walked' from branch to branch, never hopping nervously or flitting up and down the vines like other birds would. Then, as quick as he appeared, he vanished. Not a peep (no pun intended) out of this little guy. Oh, well, at least I had a substantial amount of (grainy) photos to reference to as I pulled my field guide out. Flipping through the warblers pages, I spied a couple of look-alikes: Mourning, Connecticut, and MacGillivray's warblers. I looked at their differences, and immediately realized that the only one with a complete white eye ring was the Connecticut. The range was a bit off, but otherwise my bird fit the description perfectly! Long undertail coverts giving the appearance of a short tail, blue-grey hood, eye ring sometimes broken on one side only, a bit stocky, walks rather than hops, found in spruce bogs or near wetlands (near the vines and branches was a large pond, complete with Wood Ducks and frogs) or moist woods... YES, this was my bird! But how could it be, all the websites and books I'd read said that Connecticut warbler (in the east, particularly in Ohio) was an uncommon find! After Googling some images of the Connecticut warbler and comparing them to my bird, I was sure...this was a Connecticut warbler!
I'm still working on reporting this sighting, but in the meantime, here are the (grainy!) photos I snapped of the handsome fellow:
If anyone knows WHERE TO REPORT THIS SIGHTING, please give me the link or e-mail; it would be much appreciated. Thank you!