"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, August 18, 2017

In Pursuit of LYB

From on high, came the message:

Friends, especially the photographers in South Central. It’s that time of year to really concentrate on the small migrants. They are starting to gather in flocks to begin the migration. It’s been my experience over the years that once they begin [to] flock most will be gone in 2 weeks. If you have Elderberry patches in your birding area concentrate on them. If you don’t have Elderberrys concentrate on Alders that have a rusty look to them now and lots of worm holes…
—Doug Lloyd, host/administrator/photographer par excellence of Birds of Alaska on Facebook

I recently realized that I am in love with Little Yellow Birds (LYB), known to birders as warblers.  Yellow warblers, yellow-rumped warblers, orange-crowned warblers, Wilson’s warblers, and on and on and on.

Yellow-rumped warbler at Dave's Creek.

Male yellow warbler in fall plumage in my yard.

Thus, when the day dawned with rare sunshine, I ventured out to find LYB and perhaps an alder flycatcher or two.  I checked the elderberry bushes and the elderberry tree on my property and saw nothing.  I have seen yellow birds flit through here over the years, but they rarely landed for a photo or two.

I drove north on the Seward highway where there are lots of elderberry bushes and alders.

I stopped often and inspected the bushes.   Not a sign of birds, yellow or otherwise.  I saw bushes with boughs so laden with gorgeous red berries that they drooped almost to the ground.   I saw alders so chewed by bugs that the leaves were mere skeletons of themselves.

No LYB on this elderberry.

Fireweed, daisies, and berries on an elderberry bush.

I walked through fields of sweetly-scented clover as I looked for LYB.

I stopped in places where I’d seen birds earlier in the summer.   Nada, zilch, zip.   I drove more than 20 miles, to the Hope cutoff.   Then I drove back.  The only birds I saw were four magpies, and one of the them was dead along the roadside.

When I got home, I sat on the front deck for a while to watch the jays and nuthatches and chickadees and juncos that gather there.

And wouldn’t you know!    A Wilson’s warbler, bright, bright yellow with a spectacular black cap landed in the willow just a few feet off my deck.

I guess it’s true:   the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.

On the other hand, while I was out pursuing LYB, I filled eight big yellow bags with litter, plus a bunch of larger stuff that wouldn’t fit in bags, yellow or otherwise.

The drive was not a total loss.

My litter find of the day.   Two fillet knives within this scabbard.

An unidentified flower.


  1. Well you saved me some effort trying to figure out what on earth LYB meant by telling us your readers right-up-front .. Little Yellow Bird. Quite a find the two fillet knives in the scabbard. Who do you suppose comes up with names such as a .. Wilson's Warbler .. a Mr / Mrs / Ms Wilson? The Yellow Rumped Warbler does at least have a yellow rump. Here in Mongolia it is suddenly beginning to feel like Autumn. Last night I had to get up and shut the window the air was so cold. Rare for me. Smiles from Cap in Mongolia and Patti in Anchorage still asleep I guess.

  2. I got up last night here in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and I actually put on long underwear. I am still wearing said long underwear and it is close to 12 o'clock noontime on Sunday the 20th here. I don't know if Patti has done the same. Smiling .. Cap and Patti.