Saturday, April 26, 2014

One Week till the BWIAB! - 26 Apr 2014

My dear friend Patricia Rydzewski and I drove down to Crane Creek and Magee Marsh in NW Ohio look for warblers in anticipation for next week's start of the Biggest Week in American Birding festival.  We were not disappointed.

We arrived at the west end of the Boardwalk just before 8 am and were greeted by clear skies and a stiff breeze. But Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers were active in the trees even before we got out of the car.  A few minutes atop the observation tower brought wonderful looks at one Palm Warbler that made me regret (deeply) leaving my spotting scope and digiscoping gear in the car.

We spotted only a couple of Hermit Thrushes on the ground as we headed along the boardwalk. Most of them seem to have moved on.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets were actively singing, but not giving very good photo opps.

Our first nice surprise of the morning came from a bright orange Scarlet Tanager that was foraging along the shoreline of the large pond next to the parking lot.  The male bird (possibly a 2nd year bird) showed bright red feathers and black wings, but lots of yellow mixed in, giving it an 'orange' appearance.  He really popped in the morning sun, especially in the darker areas of the understory.

At the east end of the boardwalk we heard our first Yellow Warbler, and then found a Black-throated Green Warbler that foraged just feet away.

On the return trip we encountered several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, but too far to photograph.  Tree Swallows were the only consolation.

Just as we turned a corner on the boardwalk, near marker 18, Pat suddenly stopped and started shooting at a bird to my left.  I had to back up to see a gorgeous little male Prothonotary Warbler perched right next to the boardwalk.

For the next 20 minutes we, and a gathering crowd that included friends Cathy Carroll, Rodalfo Palma, and the extremely talented Artemis Eyster, watched this little stunner put on a show just inches away on and next to the boardwalk.  This same bird (presumed) has been entertaining visitors to the boardwalk for the past few days and almost seems attracted to the attention its been getting. I'll never tire of seeing Prothonotary Warblers...

A pair of Rusty Blackbirds (males) in breeding blacks were singing to our right and disappointed that they were getting no attention.  Normally I'd make a trip just to get this close to a Rusty Blackbird, so I made sure to get a pic or two before they flew off.

As we returned toward our cars we passed several Eastern Phoebes, and a Blue-headed Vireo.

On the way out Patricia took a few moments to photograph the Bald Eagle pair nesting near the parking lot. We would spot two more pair of eagles before leaving the marsh, see another pair at Ottawa NWR, and four more as we entered Michigan.

We were only there for about 2.5 hours, but enjoyed ourselves immensely.  I'm just itching to get back there, especially when more birds arrive in the coming weeks.

Hope to see you at the Biggest Week in American Birding, May 6 - 15, 2014!

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