These pictures of my lifer Golden-winged Warbler make me smile every time I see them. I love warblers and warbler migration more than any other part of birding. Maybe this will be a passing fad in my birding life but something about spring and fall migration gets me all excited. So when Andy and I found ourselves at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park this fall I had high hopes for a good warbler day. I didn't know it would be a 15 warbler, 3 flycatcher, and 2 vireo day but I knew it would be fun because the bird board had been hyping this place all week.
As Andy and I walked through the oak hammock we were literally surrounded by migrants. Every 10 feet or so we would stop, scan all the trees, tally new day birds, and continue walking. Tanagers and thrushes were seen that day along with vireos and buntings. But the big highlight came in almost a missed find. Our main target for the day was to find Andy a lifer Chestnut-sided Warbler. I had found one that morning in his yard but he had missed it. So when we found a little warbler that looked different than the others I assumed we had found his Chestnut-sided. As I opened our Sibley so he could confirm his lifer bird he quickly stated that it was something different. The bird was lost and he scanned the guide to figure it out. He thought it was a Golden-winged but before we could re-locate the bird the bottom fell out of the sky and it begain to pour. The weather gods were going against us.
As we sat under a shelter with a crowd of crazy Boy Scouts we mused over the idea of the bird being a Golden-winged Warbler. When the showers lightened we left for lunch thinking there was no hope in re-locating the bird but afterwards we decided to give the park one more go. A few hours later and plus one more birder we were standing in the oak hammock trying to find one unusual migrant amongst hundreds of other little birds. With fate on our side we found the bird again and confirmed the ID. A few phone calls later a dozen or more birders were scouring the hammock to pick up the bird. Not only did I get an amazing lifer bird this fall but we started a mini twitch in Miami-Dade where many people were happy to add this bird to their life, state, or county lists.
Picking my Top Ten Lifer Birds of 2008 has been fun and I encourage you to leave your top birds in the comments. I really would like to know what other people saw this year that tickled their fancy. No matter if it was a lifer or just a new yard bird, I know you had some birding highlights this year. And tomorrow you can start clean slate with 2009 and start making new birding memories all over again. Happy New Year's everyone and thanks for reading my little piece of the internet this year. It's been fun sharing with you my experiences and I've even made a few new friends in the process.