Monday, May 7, 2012

First Few Days at Magee Marsh

Last Thursday morning I started driving to Toledo, OH.  I first stopped in St. Louis to visit Tower Grove Park which is a good migrant trap south of the city.  It was a pretty morning but very slow birdwise.  The only interesting birds there were several singing Swainson's thrushes.  After about an hour I pushed on toward Toledo, but decided in Indiana to detour south of I-70 to visit the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife area.  I had read about it earlier in the year when the hooded crane that had been in Tennessee was sighted there as it apparently migrated north with the sandhill cranes it had been hanging out with in TN.  Again I found little in the way of birdlife other than one shorebird habitat that had a few greater and lesser yellowlegs, and some least sandpipers and semi-palmated plovers.

I spent the night in Richmond, IN and was checked into my motel in the Toledo area before noon.  I headed over to Magee Marsh to see how the migration was progressing there.  I spent the next 7 hours on the boardwalk bird trail.  The species diversity was pretty good but not high numbers of birds.  I ended the day with 16 warbler species seen which is the fewest in one day that I have ever counted during my many visits to Magee over the past 10 years.  Similarly, there were not high numbers of birders out on Friday, but I did see some vanity plates like the one in the photo below.

My friends Dan and Doreene who live in Columbus, spent the day at another refuge looking for a reeve as part of their annual Ohio big year efforts.  They stayed until dark without seeing the bird, so we did not get together until Sat. morning for breakfast at 6:30.  We were on the boardwalk before 8 joining far more birders than were there on Friday.  The day was much like Friday as far as bird numbers with my warbler count moving up to 18 different species seen including the not so great photo below of a northern waterthrush (click on any photo to enlarge).  Dan and Doreene added 18 new year birds for the Ohio count.

The potential top bird of the day was a black rail reported at Metzger Marsh nearby, but other than the birder who reported it, no one else had any luck in seeing or hearing this very elusive species.   We even went to the site as the full moon was rising to try a 3rd time to at least hear it but after 15 minutes of not hearing its distinctive call we decided it was time to call it a day.

On Saturday I met Susan Jones who lives in Winston-Salem which is about an hour from my home in Chapel Hill, NC.  During the day our paths crossed several times.  I thought the woman she was birding with looked like an actress who has been in several films including Mystic Pizza and High Fidelity.  On Sunday I asked Susan if I was right, and sure enough, it was Lili Taylor who decided spur of the moment to join Susan for a couple of days of birding.  Lili left before I could say how much I liked her acting.

Sunday was a bit slower than Saturday.  We started the day in high hopes of seeing an alder flycatcher and a sanderling that had been reported very early, but even though we were out looking for them by 8 they apparently had already continued their northward journeys.  We birded around the area, but did not find much new with Dan and Doreene adding only 4 new birds for their Ohio year, so we headed back to our motel for an early dinner.  While we were eating a birder called to tell us about 2 upland sandpipers flying around a newly plowed field that we had checked out on our way to dinner.  We finished eating and drove over only to be skunked.

This morning we awoke to heavy rain and thunder.  It is not really supposed to clear up today, but you never know.  At least it has given me the opportunity to do this blog post.  The next few days wind direction and general weather forecast suggest no major bird fall-out, but then they are only forecasts so stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris,

    We're the Ohio birders you met in Texas a couple of years ago. Wish we were at Magee with you--slow then, too, but not this year as Ken got a new hip on Thursday. So we're sending good wishes for good birds to you--enjoy it for us and hello!

    Helen & Ken Ostermiller