I arrived at Marblehead Neck bright and early ready to find migrating warblers. It quickly appeared I was going to be disappointed. Thirty minutes in and I had spotted a catbird and a couple of robins. And about thirty gray squirrels. I walked out to the most reliable fall warbler spot I knew (end of the boardwalk near the back pond) and waited. Ten minutes and one white-breasted nuthatch later I was about to call it a day when I caught sight of a red-eyed vireo. OK. Better than nothing.
Then all of a sudden, a commotion. Streaming through the woods, scolding constantly, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, downies. I lift the binoculars--the golden crown of a kinglet. Yes! And then more red-eyed vireos, and blue-headed vireos, and what was that? A blackpoll warbler, a non-breeding black-throated blue? A mixed flock of mobbers all gathered around the same tree, scolding and scolding. I've embedded the video below. You don't get good looks at many birds (even if you watch full-screen and in HD) but hopefully it conveys a sense of the scene.
After the commotion died down and the birds moved on, a hermit thrush popped onto the scene, as if to ask what all the fuss was about. My question exactly.
While I didn't see the target, I did end up seeing something I hadn't noticed. A nesting box, the right size for a screech owl, in the very tree the birds had surrounded.
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