Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Magee Marsh, OH - 02 May 2010

It took a while, but neotropical migrants finally reached the Great Lakes region on 29 Apr 2010. Unfortunately, this year the trees have leafed out in the region before the birds arrived, so they'll be even more challenging to see/photograph. For this reason I headed down to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and the Magee Marsh Boardwalk Sunday morning despite forecasts of heavy rain.

Surprisingly, the rain stopped before I arrived, and clear skies greeted me as I pulled into the already-crowded parking lot at 9 am. My only stop prior to my arrival was to grab a couple of quick photos of a breeding-plumaged Snowy Egret feeding in the canal at the opening of the marsh.

No sooner did I step onto the boardwalk that I ran into the great Charles Owen. He filled me in on his early morning successes and allowed me to tag along w/ him for the morning. Things got real slow, however, as the clearing skies brought high winds and pushed birds up into the canopy. We had to struggle to pick up any birds. Even the ground birds were quiet. A Nashville Warbler was our only bird for several minutes.

We soon came upon a few birds: a Gray Catbird that popped into the open for a moment. I managed a photo before it disappeared across the creek.

A few moments later a Palm Warbler appeared momentarily. Yellow-rumped Warblers and Black-and-White Warblers were the only other birds heard. Nice looks were had of a female Rufous-sided Towhee, but it flew before I could get an open view of it.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet was feeding along the edge of boardwalk, and I chased it while Charles went after a nice Yellow Warbler overhead. A scan of the marsh below the boardwalk yielded a nice Green Frog. Tree Swallows were chasing each other, and one bird landed right next to where we were standing.

News soon came to us of a Worm-eating Warbler and a female Hooded Warbler back near the entrance. So we headed that way and soon came upon a massive crowd scanning the lower thickets for the birds. I managed to get nice looks at the Hooded Warbler, but the Worm-eating Warbler was not to be refound.

By now it was nearly 11 am so we headed toward the parking lot. We stopped long enough to scan the understory for a pair of Northern Waterthrush (singing), but the birds failed to appear.

At the parking lot I ridded myself of the scope as it was too crowded to use otherwise. As we loitered near the entrane a pair of Yellow-rumps appeared in the grape vines at eye-level. I managed a few nice photos of a gorgeous male before it moved out of view. A Magnolia Warbler then appeared, but I couldn't get a clean shot through the underbrush.

Meanwhile, Charles spotted a gorgeous Blackburnian Warbler overhead in a Witch-Hazel Tree. We couldn't coax it any lower than about 20 feet, but still managed a few nice photos from below.

Returning to the boardwalk we ran into the Tropical Birding Tour Guides and co-owner Iain Campbell. They were among the large group now looking for the Worm-eating Warbler, which suddenly reappeared. I, unfortunately, missed it again, as I was looking at a White-eyed Vireo that made brief appearances along with a male American Redstart. The same area would later produce a Prothonotary Warbler (which I also missed).

Backing away from the crowd I was able to spot the Whip-poor-will that was roosting overhead in an opening in the trees. It would have been great to digiscope the bird, but a crowded boardwalk would not permit it. Being close to noon I had to get back to Detroit, so I said my goodbyes and headed out.


forestal said...

wonderful photos, a great collection of birds you saw


dAwN said...

Awesome shots..guess you were there before the big festival and crowds..

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