Black-throated Blue Warbler

It was a cloudy, warm morning with the hope, but not the promise of rain in the air. Our serious rain deficit continues, and all the trees and other vegetation look very dry. Oconee County and surrounding counties are now under complete bans of outdoor water use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and everyone’s being urged to reduce water use as much as possible.

Raindrops spattered down now and then, but by mid morning hadn’t amounted to much. The woods on the edge of our back yard seemed very quiet except when stirred by the wind. No bird activity other than the dry sounds of little chips here and there among the leaves, the loose, cool trill of a Pine Warbler, and the burbling and fussing of two or three Carolina Wrens. I last saw a Hummingbird on Sunday, the last day of September. Since then, the feeder has seemed abandoned, except for the Chickadees and Titmice that come now and then to sip from the water moat in the middle of it.

A tiny, dark shadow of a bird darted from branch to branch among the slender young oaks just inside the woods, so small and quick I almost thought it was just a speck in my eye. But when I looked with binoculars, it turned out to be a stunning Black-throated Blue Warbler. He stayed in view for less than a minute, but his color and markings were so intense and distinctive the image stayed with me as clear as a photo – dark-blue back and head, black throat and face, pure white belly, and bright white “handkerchief” on the wing. A vivid splash of color against the muted, grayish background of the day.

I walked around and looked for several minutes, but could find no other warblers or other migrants – no sound or sight of any but this one, and it, too, had disappeared.

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