While I was down at the beach last weekend, I saw loads of Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting amidst the low shrubs on the walk back from the jetty. The wind was blowing pretty fierce, so they would fly up but settle back down quickly. Mostly they were hanging around one type of shrub with small whitish berries. I shouted across to one of the other birders to ask what it was. The answer. Bayberry. Like the candles. Also know as Wax Myrtle. I pulled one off, scratched at the wax covering with my thumbnail and sniffed it. Piney smelling.
He told me that the reason Yellow-rumps can stay this far north in winter is because they eat bayberries. Hmmm. Yellow-rumped Warblers here used to be called Myrtle Warblers. Bayberry is also call Myrtle. I’m thinking, not a coincidence. I like that name better. It is prettier, poetic, with a colonial tang; but perhaps I am carried away by the spicey smell of the shrub.