I was really hopeful as I got out of the Prius having reached the Washington Ditch Parking lot with David Hughes right behind me. I was pleased that his plans had changed and he was able to join this morning's walk. Also there were Terry Jenkins, Renee Hudgins, John Young, and three sisters who came together from Chesapeake, Amherst County, and Michigan for this walk. It was not long after starting out that we got our first warbler, a Pine. From there we added American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, lots of Ovenbirds, a Hooded Warbler, a Northern Parula, several Prothonotaries, Louisiana Waterthrushes, a Black-throated Green Warbler, a few Myrtle Warblers, and a Yellow-throated Warbler. The last of our dozen warblers is the creme de la creme of the Dismal Swamp. As we sauntered along we heard off to our north about 3/4 of the way to the Lynn Ditch intersection the sweet song of a Swainson's Warbler (photo). Although there are a few places north of here that Swainson Warblers breed, the Great Dismal Swamp is certainly its best known stronghold and the place that all who live north of here visit in order to claim the prize for their day's, year's, or life list. In my experience the density of Swainson's Warblers has increased over the last decade. I now feel they are not too difficult to find and in fact, to see if one has the patience, a trait I have been slow to acquire. Just find a singing bird, wait for it to come near the road, and look for its singing perch which he will use for perhaps ten minutes at a sitting. The perch is usually about 18 feet above the ground and is found by scanning intently ALL the horizontal twigs in the area of the song. I know...it sounds like that's what you would do anyway. Right? But most people do not have the patience to follow those simple steps. It has worked well for me the last several years. Don't knock it, 'til you've tried it.
Four of those warblers (Prothonotary, Hooded, Black-throated Green, and Swainson's) were year birds bringing my total to 433. And I've still got a chance for a few more before John and I head off to Colorado on Saturday.