Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BWIB Tuesday! - 10 May 2011

A look at the NEXRAD radar site on Monday morning showed a huge movement of birds northward from the Gulf of Mexico and Texas.  So I took a vacation day to head to Magee Marsh, OH on Tuesday with the hopes that 1) rain would hold off, and 2) a new wave of birds will have arrived in the area.  With the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival occurring, the parking lot was already filling with birders and photographers.

I was delighted to have arrived shortly after 7am and meet Jeff and Dawn Simmons Fine (finally). Dawn has been so instrumental in getting Bird Bloggers together (on Facebook and on the Web), so it was truly a pleasure to finally meet her and Jeff!  We chatted for a few minutes while a chorus of birds rained overhead.

I left them and headed out along the boardwalk from the west entrance, listening to the calls of Black-throated Green Warblers, Warbling Vireos, and Northern Waterthrush.  I could also hear the Prothonotary Warbler, but had difficulty finding it.  A bright red male Scarlet Tanager overhead made up for that miss.

I had forgotten the flash and Better Beamer this morning, so I had to rely on ambient lighting this day.  Overhead skies were cloudy and with the threat of rain.  It was breezy and cool, as well, so heavy jackets and gloves were being worn by everyone.  First images captured of American Redstarts, Warbling Vireos, and the Scarlet Tanager were a bit dark, so I was praying for the skies to lighten quickly.  My first keeper would come a few minutes later as an Ovenbird made a quick fly-by.

Questions about a new wave of birds were soon answered as I headed toward markers 16 - 21.  Small flocks of White-throated Sparrows, Lincoln's Sparrows, and Gray Catbirds (20 of them!) were moving on either side of the boardwalk as I walked.  The first of several Veery were also seen.  A Black-and-White Warbler was feeding along the railing and provided a few photos from 20' away.  I was glad I brought the monopod this morning.

My best bird of the day would come a few moments later at marker 20 when a beautiful male Prothonotary Warbler appeared overhead and proceeded to give me about 5 minutes of fast action photography as it foraged just a few feet away.  One moment it was in the trees overhanging the boardwalk, next it was on the rails foraging for insects.

It paused momentarily to pluck midges out of a spider web and belt out its song.  It finally flew off and I continued on along the canal.

A minute or two later a beautiful and cooperative Blue-headed Vireo appeared on my left.  It perched just a foot or so away and scanned its surroundings as I fired away at point blank range. 

I'd been hearing a loud 'Sweet-sweet-chu-chu-chu' call all morning and finally realized that it was coming from a Yellow Warbler.  Not the 'Sweet-sweet-sweet-littlemore-sweet' so commonly heard...

American Redstarts appeared to be more abundant this morning. I managed a few captures at relatively close range.

Black-throated Green Warblers still continue to charm.  Black-throated Blue Warblers were also abundant, but tended to stay farther back along the boardwalk. 

A lovely Scarlet Tanager made a brief appearance high overhead, but refused to come down lower.  Still, I managed a few long-distance keepers.

Returning along the north side of the boardwalk toward the west entrance I spotted more Bay-breasted Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, and a single Canada Warbler.  These birds were good binocular birds but bad camera birds.  I had to work for a snapshot or two.

Crowds were heavy at the west end, and it was a chore to get through the packed boardwalk.  I grabbed a quick bite to eat from the car and then walked the parking lot to the east entrance.  Oddly, by 10 am the birds appeared to be disappearing.  I had to work to get a few more pics of American Redstarts, another Scarlet Tanager (male and female), Great-crested Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, and Red-eyed Vireo.

Deciding to call it a morning I headed back along the parking lot and ran into Stephen Ingraham, optics expert for Carl Zeiss and a fellow digiscoper.  We would then meet up w/ Clay Taylor (optics rep for Swarovski and fellow digiscoper) and Iain Campbell (Tropical Birding Tours).  A nice way to end to end the warbler season (I'm off to NC at the end of the week).


dAwN said...

Awesome! Your photos are great! Magee is unreal! So glad we met..wish we had more time to chat :(

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Wow what a great day! Good birds and good friends .. Especially love the Prothonotary Warbler capture and Chestnut-sided Warbler. Magee Marsh looks like a birders paradise.

Nancy Crosby said...

Must go to Magee Marsh next Spring!

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