Monday, September 21, 2020

Warbler Guy: What happens to vagrant warblers at Point Reyes and other migrant traps that jut southward into the open Pacific? Do most of them manage to redirect themselves back to the coast and make their way south in the morning? Or does their misorientation lead many of them to a watery death far out at sea, unless they should choose to winter on the mainland?

 Good question, Joshua, as now is the prime time to see vagrant (accidental arrival) warblers at the Outer Point within Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Marin Co., CA.

Given this is a venue to which I often guide birders that enjoy a foray with me, the best time to see vagrants is now and through October. (The typical range of seeing so-called East Coast & Midwestern warblers out of range and as vagrants on the West Coast at the Outer Point is, generally, August - October (though the peak weeks tend to be mid-September through mid-October, varying by year).

In any event, to answer the gentleman's question from above....

I bow to several resources as evidence for the answer:

The majority of warblers meet a sad fate after you see them at the Outer Point area:
Neverland is their destiny, given they often keep flying over the ocean.
Their R.I.P. epitaph is simply a tuckered and tired path to oblivion. 

Sad, as I wrote.

Rich Stallcup, bless our passed ornithological mentor and bellwether pioneer in myriad ways,
often posited the above note about the sad death of warblers after they hang out temporarily at the Outer Point (most noticeably amid Monterey Cypress trees that offer shelter and food resources amid the dairy/ag farms dominating the Outer Point landscape).

Another excellent nearby option for seeing songbird vagrants is among trees at the Kehoe Beach trail area via Pierce Pt. Rd. (Tomales Bay State Park turnoff). Here, Noah Arthur spotted Blackpoll Warbler on 9/20/20.

I myself observed the same species among Monterey Cypress near Muir Beach last week with a couple of other birders. Several other trails in this area are worth checking out for "autumn" vagrants, with several recent observations qualifying as notable, including Yellow-breasted Chat and Connecticut Warbler.

Regards, Daniel

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