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(Myrtle) Yellow-rumped Warbler

My first visit to The Beanery and my first time seeing this warbler.

After walking for 90 minutes on my field trip around The Beanery, I still had no bird photographs. Despite the group's enthusiasm, I started to feel that I had wasted my time. I wanted to quit the tour, leave the group, and return to the car. However, I didn't relish telling Bhavna we had driven two hours in the rain to return home empty-handed. We heard trills and high-pitched chips as we approached a pond near one of the farm buildings. We could see rapid movement in the vines growing on the other side of the pond. Someone called out, with a surprisingly disappointing voice, that we were looking at Yellow-rumped warblers. Finally!

The Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) is a well-known bird species. Yellow-rumped Warbler species exhibit sexual dimorphism, meaning males and females have distinct appearances. While editing my photos, I realised that I had photographed females only. Female Yellow-rumped Warblers are referred to as "Myrtle."

Like most warblers, Yellow-rumped warblers are primarily insectivorous during the breeding season, feasting on insects and other invertebrates. Pond flies were buzzing around the pond as I photographed the birds hopping between the leaves of the thick vines and the branches of the dead shrubs near me.

Female Palm Warbler
Female (Myrtle) Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) · October 21, 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

The Yellow-rumped Warbler plumage provides camouflage in various environments where the warbler lives. During the breeding season, Myrtle females have grayish-olive upperparts with streaks on their back and wings. Their throats and undersides are pale yellow. However, the prominent feature of Yellow-rumped Warblers is the yellow patch on their rump. The colour is more subdued in females than males but still noticeable.

After the early morning's disappointment, seeing these Yellow-rumped Warblers in their natural habitat was rewarding.

Barking Squirrel

Eastern Gray squirrels are agile climbers of trees, and I often see them leaping from branch to branch.

Montgomery Township, New Jersey has two common squirrel species: the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and the Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger). The ones I see in my backyard are the Eastern Gray Squirrel. I don’t think I have seen any Eastern Fox Squirrel.

Eastern Gray squirrels are agile climbers of trees, and I often see them leaping from branch to branch. The Eastern Gray Squirrels have adapted to suburban and urban environments. This Eastern Gray was on the tree that holds the bird feeder, trying to get a meal. It must have been a frustrating and disappointing experience. The bird feeder is squirrel-proof.

No squirrels, chipmunks or raccoons are on the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where I lived in the Eastern Caribbean. The only animals I remembered scampering in the trees were indigenous birds and anole (Anolis trinitatis) lizards. The largest wild mammals are mongoose, small terrestrial carnivorous mammals from Asia introduced by the colonial powers to eradicate the native snakes. The Mongoose has harmed native bird populations. They are elusive, and I have never seen one.

The Eastern Gray Squirrel has fur with a white belly, although some individuals may have slight colour variations. The grey squirrel is an invasive species in the European Union and cannot be imported, bred, transported, commercialised, or intentionally released into the environment.

Black squirrels are a melanistic variant of the Eastern Gray Squirrel. I have occasionally seen black squirrels in some parts of Montgomery Township (including my backyard) but more often in Princeton Township. Black squirrels are much more common in the Midwest, and I have even seen them in Niagara Falls, Canada. Black squirrels have an all-black fur coat.

Shaan noticed this individual in the tree outside the window while we talked at the kitchen table. The squirrel looked at us, making a barking noise as we watched. It seemed irritated. After a few minutes, I grabbed my camera and super-telephoto lens and stepped onto the deck in the backyard. Soon after I took this photograph, the squirrel scampered down the tree and ran off into the bushes in the backyard. Shaan noticed that it favoured one of its hind legs. That could explain the growling. We surmised that the squirrel was hurt and afraid.

Common Yellowthroat

I have been lucky enough to photograph this warbler twice in Mercer Meadows.

This Common Yellowthroat is another bird I photographed in Mercer Meadows thsmpast Spring. I have been lucky enough to photograph this warbler twice in Mercer Meadows.

The Common Yellowthroat, a small and lively warbler, is a common sight in New Jersey during the season. I like their bright yellow throat and the black mask across their eyes. I sometimes confuse them for American Goldfinch.

Common Yellowthroat are often found in wetlands, thickets, and marshy areas, where they forage for insects and spiders. These agile birds are elusive, preferring to stay hidden in dense vegetation. Their "wichity-wichity" song adds a delightful touch to the wetland and marshland.