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Birdwalk Highlights for 5/4: Florida Lake Park and Hidden Pond Preserve, Freeport.

I didn't need to look at the calendar to know it was May: the size of the group made that abundantly clear! Luckily, we carpooled efficiently and headed over to Florida Lake Park. If only I knew where all of those birds on the move last night landed this morning, because it wasn't -for the most part - here!

Nonetheless, it is May and a slow morning in May is still fantastic. About 20 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS led the way, and we were greeted by 3 singing OVENBIRDS who likely arrived overnight. One of 3 BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS were well seen, as were one of the two PALM WARBLERS, and for some, one of the 3 BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS. One newly arrived male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT popped up briefly, as another sang in the distance.

Other migrants seen and heard included 3 BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, 3 GRAY CATBIRDS, 2 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, and 1 SWAMP SPARROW. Two pairs of RING-NECKED DUCKS continue here, a BELTED KINGFISHER worked the shoreline, and a couple of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were loafing. 20-30 TREE SWALLOWS were swarming over the lake, a migrant SHARP-SHINNED HAWK passed over, and an adult BROAD-WINGED HAWK put on a show as it repeatedly dive-bombed an adult BALD EAGLE that was previously soaring low overhead.

To mix things up, we then relocated to Hidden Pond Preserve in the hopes of finding a few more migrants, especially warblers feeding in blooming willows. We heard at least 3 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, our first YELLOW WARBLER of the year, a singing Common Yellowthroat and two more Swamp Sparrows. An OSPREY stood guard over the pond, and we had another migrant Sharp-shinned Hawk on the go overhead.

But one patch of blooming willows confirmed my hypothesis: About 8-10 Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a Black-and-white Warbler were joined by a stunning male BALTIMORE ORIOLE - the first of the year for almost all, and a perfect example of the productivity of "birding by habitat:" find the food sources and you'll find the birds!

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