Sunday, April 15, 2012

Magee Marsh, OH - 14 Apr 2012

It was a rainy day in Ohio, today.  Pat Gamburd and I drove down to Magee Marsh to check out happenings at the boardwalk. 

The usual suspects were found along the drive into the marsh.  Red-winged Blackbirds, American Robins, and Song Sparrows greeted us as we drove past the Black Swamp Bird Observatory.  We heard and saw a singing Brown Thrasher atop a distant tree, but the rain and overcast skies gave us only a silhouette view of the bird. At the opening to the marsh we found a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers working the dike to our right. A few moments later a pair of Swamp Sparrows made a brief appearance, but didn't stick around long enough for any pics.  Tree Swallows were actively nesting in the boxes scattered along the dikes, and American Coot were foraging in the shallows. 

We drove to the west end of the boardwalk and headed toward the observation platform.  Common Grackles were in the canopy while American Robins were in the understory.  We had nice looks at an Eastern Phoebe, but failed to find a pair of singing Carolina Wrens

Ruby-crowned Kinglets were singing several yards from the boardwalk, but provided little in the way of photos.  We then saw the first of many Hermit Thrushes working the understory.  But they were constantly moving, and difficult to photograph in the clear.

We ran into a flock of White-throated Sparrows along the south side of the boardwalk.  A Brown Thrasher flew by and provided close, but obscured looks from just 5 feet away.  Wood Ducks made a racket as they flew overhead, and off in the distance a Sora could be heard whinnying its song.  Between the white-throats and more Hermit Thrushes movings along the base of the boardwalk ahead of us we had a frustrating time trying to decide which subject to try to photograph.  It didn't matter, though, since they all provided only brief and provocative poses before flying on ahead of us.  A pair of Swamp Sparrows appeared among the White-throated Sparrows, but only contributed to our frustrations.  A Winter Wren made a brief appearance near marker 26.

We ran into a flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers near marker 22B.  A Pine Warbler was among them, and I concentrated on trying to get a pic or two of it.  The bird was overhead and disappeared after only a few moments. After that I concentrated on getting some pics of the Yellow-rumps.

We headed backed to the east end of the boardwalk.  From there we headed to the outbuildings, only to find them locked.  As we walked back to the car we spotted Kenn Kaufman quietly birding the edge of the parking lot, so we walked over to see what's happening.  He pointed to a Rufous-sided Towhee perched nearby.  I would've enjoyed the chance to bird w/ Kenn, and he offered to let us tag along w/ him, but I would've collapsed under the weight of my own bladder, so (sadly) we bade farewell and headed on.

After finding relief we headed over to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge for the auto tour.  As we drove into the refuge, the first pond we drove by held a half-dozen Trumpeter Swans and a dozen Dunlin foraging in a small patch of exposed mud in the middle of the pond.  It was raining hard, but I needed to pull the scope out to verify a flock of Wilson's Snipe flying into the rear portion of the pond behind some emergent vegetation. I managed to count 8 - 10 birds near a single Greater Yellowlegs.

Another pond held several Dunlin, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, and American Coot.  Pat was able to find a Sora and a Wilson's Snipe foraging next to each other at the back edge of the pond.  Other ponds held more American Coot, American Wigeon, Gadwall, and Pied-billed Grebes.  A few more Lesser Yellowlegs and Wilson's Snipe later, and we were ready to head back to Michigan.  We stopped long enough for Pat to get a couple pics of a roosting Bald Eagle near the exit of the auto tour. We also saw a Northern Mockingbird hopping around in the median of Hwy 2 as we headed north toward I-280!

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