Blackpoll, A Rare Warbler for Panama

Blackpoll Warbler
November 18, 2011
I was up all night last night reading, writing and playing on the internet. When 4:30 a.m. flashed on the digital clock I decided to have coffee, wait for the sun to come up and have an early morning walk.  This is the second time this week I've done this.  Insomnia stinks but I might as well make the best of it.

 Unfortunately, it started to rain as the sky began to lighten.  I changed back into my pajamas and had a coffee with Gene when he got up. The rain stopped after our coffee and I got re-dressed and went out.  I only got to the old Handball Bldg.before the clouds let loose.

I ran for cover under the dilapidated covered carport. The area is a ghost town of the old American military complex. I stood under the metal roof for about 30 minutes and watched and heard birds from there: Plain wren, White-tipped doves, House Wren, Clay-colored Thrush, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatchers, Eastern Pewee, Variable Seedeater, Crested Oropendola, Panama Flycatcher, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Female Violet-bellied Hummingbird(?), Plain Tanagers, Blue Grosbeak, Smooth-billed Anis, Black Vultures.  When a break in the rain came, I headed home because it looked like more was on the way.  As I passed the cut cane clearings where several fresh water creeks drain to the bay, I saw some warblers jumping around in the cut cane.  There was a Yellow Warbler and something else.  Another Bay-breasted?  No. Well, maybe?  It was still overcast and not the best light, but I took a few shots.  There appeared to be two.  The one closest to me finally flew to the other side of the creek and down into the grass and I couldn't see him anymore.  I would have hung around or tried to get closer, but rain begain to fall and I hurried home.  I had a coke and crashed. 
After my nap, I down-loaded my grainy photos while Gene made Spagetti with Italian sausages in a tomato sauce.
Notice the feet.
I decided I had a Blackpoll Warbler and went the Fort Sherman bird list I use and it wasn't there. I got out Ridgely and he says the bird is a very rare, but probably over-looked, visitor to Panama. I've sure had my share of uncommon birds the last month and a half!  Fall plumages of  Blackpoll and Bay-breasted can be similar so I went back to my photos and went online to compare and make sure I wasn't mistaken. The legs and feet are a good way to distinguish. Blackpoll are yellow and Bay-breasted dark. Unfortunately, my photos had the bird sitting on his feet or not showing!  Typical. Then I saw one photo of the bird in a face forward shot showing yellow feet! I remembered there was a least one Yellow Warbler in the mix, but Yellow Feet showed wing-bars and was clearly not a Yellow Warbler.  I'm convinced I have a Blackpoll.  It is rare enough that I will get confirmation before listing. Whoo-Hoo! Lifer #919.
(Photo at the top of this post was taken the next morning Nov. 19.  It is better than the original--it shows the feet too!)
Edit:  Thanks to the birders on Surfbirds for confirmation. Here is a link to the post:

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