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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Hermit Warbler makes an appearance in Delaware County

Brian Quindlen's Photo of Hermit Warbler

                On November 25, 2022  Eric Gulson and Teresa Pegan from Michigan were visiting family in Upper Chichester for Thanksgiving when they happened to look out the living room window and discovered a small bird flitting around the tree out front. Upon further investigation they would discover the bird to be a Hermit Warbler. This is a bird of the Pacific Coast and should be in Mexico at this time of year. 

            They posted the sighting on eBird and fortunately people saw the posting. I was just getting home from birding at the Commodore Barry bridge when Sara Busch calls and asked if I saw the alert. I told her no I hadn't because I had been driving and just sat down at the kitchen table. She asked if I knew the observers and could I contact them. I didn't know them but I was able to get their email address and ask if they were accepting visitors to their home. They quickly responded that they were allowing visitors and I got the message out. Within 15 minutes I was there and Rob Fergus had somehow managed to get there before I did.

            Within an hour's time I would guess there were about 20 birders roaming the neighborhood in search of the warbler. I stayed for about 2 1/2 hours and finally gave up after not seeing the bird. People were making plans already to come the next morning, me included, figuring the bird would stay put in the area. 

            Saturday morning I arrived back at their house at 7:15 am and Dave Wilton walked past me as I was sitting in the car. We started chatting and then a van pulled up with Shannon Thompson in it and she reported the bird was found at the Chichester Baptist Church (now an eBird hotspot "Stakeout Hermit Warbler, Cherry Tree Rd) around the corner and down the road a block or two. We headed over to the church parking lot and who was there looking at the bird but Jason Horn and Ross Gallardy with his newborn baby Roger. A little later Brian Quindlin showed up with his newborn son Adam. Birders these days seem to be starting out younger and younger.


Great frontal shot (Josh Graham)

Just part of the crowd ( Photo by Sara Busch)

Another crowd shot (photo by Chad Hutchinson)

             The bird was flitting around in a row of white pines but was exceedingly difficult to get a good look. John Zygmunt showed up and then the bird popped up in view and everyone got a glimpse of the bird except yours truly. Eventually, dozens of folks started showing up and the more eyes the better. I was finally able to get a satisfying look but couldn't get a good picture. When I left at 9am there were at least 30 birders there and I heard that the warbler wasn't seen again after 9:30.

            Needless to say, I was thrilled to get a new life bird for Delaware County and for Pennsylvania. Chad Kauffman asked me how many warblers I have seen in Pennsylvania counting this warbler. I never thought about this, so I counted them and came up with 40 species seen in PA. 

            I believe this is a first state record of Hermit Warbler. It was quite the challenge to get a decent view and also great to see the many birding friends that were made from past birding expeditions. 

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