Friday, May 17, 2013

Magee Marsh Magic

There is a 6 foot wide boardwalk that meanders thru the marsh/woodland.  There are 2 entrances, one on the east end and one on the west end.  Most birders park and enter on the west end, but others prefer starting on the east end because there invariably are fewer birders at that end which makes it easier to move around on busy days during spring migration. 

Monday thru Wednesday continued the parade of migrants stopping in to eat before flying further north to their breeding grounds.  One of the harder birds to see because of its skulking habits, and its relative rarity on the boardwalk is the mourning warbler (photo below taken by Greg Miller; click on any photo to enlarge).

Another crowd pleaser is the blackburnian whose throat appears to be on fire when the sun is shining on it.  It seemed like there were more of them stopping in at once than any other time I have visited here.

Cut oranges are hung on trees to attract the baltimore orioles.

On Monday we found a Louisiana waterthrush (just above) which is a quite rare visitor to the boardwalk even though they breed in central Michigan.  I see this species on my land in NC regularly because it arrives in late March to breed.  The ovenbird is as common on the boardwalk as it is on my land in NC.  The streaking on the chest, and the fact that it walks around on the ground a lot makes beginning birders think it is a small thrush. 

Red-eyed (just below), warbling, Philadelphia and yellow-throated vireos can all be found on the boardwalk in May.

The prothonotary warbler arrives in early May to breed at Magee.  Its sweet-sweet-sweet call is loud and its bright yellow color makes it easy to find.  The photogs really like snapping its picture.

The 2 most sought after warblers on the boardwalk are the Connecticut and the Kirtland's because of their relative rarity.  The former is the latest of the migrating warblers, but a few stop in generally from the 20th to the 30th of May.  Sometimes an early arrival occurs, but no matter when they come they are very hard to see as they skulk around on the ground in the green vegetation.  On Wednesday as I was about to leave to drive home, a possible CT was reported which drew a crowd to see if it would pop up out of the vegetation.  Unfortunately it did not.

Tuesday morning began very strong with so many birds moving thru the trees that it was hard to keep up.  My friend Jan spotted a yellow-throated warbler that only stayed around for about 15 minutes before it disappeared.  This warbler breeds in southern Ohio, but is not seen much on the boardwalk.  There were also several hooded warblers which are also not often found at Magee.  The big news was the tweet of a female Kirtland's on the east beach (photo above taken by Adrian Binns, a bird guide and friend of mine) which began a parade of birders hiking out to see it throughout the day.  With the recovery from 500 breeding pairs to over 2000, Kirtland's are seen almost every year now at Magee on their way to Michigan. On Wednesday a male, probably a first year, was found on the west beach (photo below also by Adrian of a male taken back in 2010 during my big year visit to Magee).

Overall, the 8 days of birding this spring at Magee once again was magical.  On Tuesday I set my personal day record of 26 warbler species, and had a chance at 28 but could not locate a blackpoll or orange-crowned that were being reported.  For the visit I saw 31 warbler species, also a new personal best for a visit to Magee, and I missed finding CT and prairie warblers that were reported.  The total bird count was 156 species and could have been as high as 170 if I had seen some of the other reported birds.  As always it was great to see birders that I have come to expect being at Magee Marsh each spring.

I am not sure what my next bird trip may be but I will be commenting before long on how the known full ABA area big year birders seem to be doing so far.  Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment