This morning I was up before dawn, full of coffee and fully dressed, in my car and on my way to Alley Pond Park. I forced myself to be in a positive state of mind. Just because I had already spent fourteen hours searching for the Virginia’s Warbler that Eric Miller found on Halloween without finding the bird didn’t mean that I would once again dip.

I got out of my car, gave directions to another birder, and headed out for where the bird was last reported yesterday.

There were no Virginia’s Warblers there.

I walked out to where the bird had been seen by Andrew Baksh on Friday.

There were no Virginia’s Warblers there.

I walked back along the path that hugs the north side of the park, stopping to discuss searching strategies with three other birders. On I walked until I saw a flash of movement and some gray feathers between a small window into the bushes. My pulse sped up as I tried desperately to will the bird to move slightly, to give me a better look and…Tufted Titmouse.

But there were other birds there as well, kinglets and sparrows, woodpeckers and wrens and, whoa, VIRGINIA’S WARBLER!!!!!

Just like that every bit of the now fifteen hours I had spent looking was worth it. Here, have a look for yourself. You can even click the picture to make it bigger…

What, you thought I was going to make it easy? I put fourteen hours into this bird! You can at least look at that tangle there for thirty seconds until you find it. I’ll wait.

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There, wasn’t that rewarding? Oh fine, you want instant gratification, don’t you?

Once I saw the bird I knew I had to get the word out. I had forgotten to get the numbers of the birders that I had already run into so I did the next best thing. I turned away from the bird and bellowed “I HAVE THE BIRD!” The jogger coming down the path almost had a heart attack but one birder heard me and came running and then kept tabs on the bird while I got email and texts to the proper lists. By the time I left at least ten birders had shown up and been made happy by the diminutive vagrant. I should have made them wait fourteen hours…

Anyway, this is Queens bird number 295 and one that I never expected to see here in my home borough! What could possibly be next?

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.