Texas Travel Diary - p 6|
20 April 2003
For me the star of Sabine Woods is the beautiful little Prothonotary Warbler. Its name, by the way, is a misspelled and mispronounced rendition of protonotary, a papal official who wears bright yellow robes. "What a name to saddle on the Golden Swamp-bird!" lamented early ornithologist A.C. Bent. It does indeed nest in swamps and along waterways in the eastern U.S. Here it's in the same habitat, gleaning insects from the small willows around Sabine Woods pond. Vera and Bob Thornton, who describe how they photographed every breeding species of warbler in North America in Chasing Warblers, once counted almost 100 exhausted Prothonotaries around this pond following a heavy rainstorm that produced a fallout. I was lucky to photograph this bird when I did - later a woman from the Texas Ornithological Society came by and scolded another photographer and me for using flash because it distracts the other birders.
21 April 2003
As I'm waiting, I reflect on how some trees and
vines, such as dogwood and wild grapes, produce fruit in autumn. Their fruit ripens
just in time to feed migrant songbirds heading south. The mulberry, at least here
along the southern coast, produces fruit early enough for spring migrants moving
north. One can almost sense how relieved are the orioles and tanagers to have
survived their long and dangerous Gulf transit. Now they can enjoy a quick energy
fix before continuing on to their breeding homes.