(I originally wrote this on the 6th of December)
On Friday, after showing up to take some turtle and lizard photos, I hung out at the TR Sanctuary and watched the feeders a little bit. As the sun finally set and the light got low, a Thrush flew in and landed on a high branch over the feeders. The bird was incredibly gray and had a sharply contrasting reddish tail. The bird was so strange looking that I grabbed a Sibley guide to verify that it was indeed the Hermit Thrush that I thought it was. Turns out that there is a western subspecies Catharus guttatus auduboni that matches the bird I saw pretty well, though I’m not absolutely convinced from my brief viewing in low light. Regardless, I was pretty excited about that possible western Hermit Thrush when, soon thereafter, I saw the NYS Bird List alert of a Hermit Warbler at Sunken Meadows.
Hermit Warbler, I thought at the time, would be pretty cool in light of the fact that it was now December in the far north and most Warblers, aside from maybe Yellow-rumped, were enjoying their winters down in Latin America. Still, it wasn’t anything to get crazy about. Hermit Warbler, of course, is the Warbler named for the same guy whose name appears on the Hermit Thrush. I was busy and wouldn’t be twitching this particular bird too hard…
Sunday night it hit me: “Hermit” isn’t some guy’s name – it’s descriptive! I had been thinking of Swainson’s – Swainson’s Thrush is another local Thrush, and Swainson’s Warbler is a southeastern Warbler that occasionally shows up in New York state. Hermit Warbler, on the other hand, is a Warbler of the Pacific Northwest that almost never shows up in the east and this was bird would be the first state record!
Well, that’s a mix-up that only a birder can understand. I twitched the bird this morning without much trouble and here are a couple of shots I got… (written weeks ago so Hermit Warbler picture is at the end!)