Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Magic of Magee - 05 May 2018

The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival kicked off last evening. The bird didn't wait. Things have been hopping for almost a week now, and, with a delay in tree-leafing, should be a great year for seeing jewels of the birding world. A VERY strong thunderstorm hit the lower Great Lakes Region Friday afternoon, and many of the birds would move out with it, including such birds as Kentucky and Hooded Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, and Blue-winged and Cerulean Warblers. But, many new arrivals would replace them: Blackpoll and Black-throated Green Warblers (more about them later).

I left the house a little after 5 am hoping to get down to Magee Marsh as the sun was coming up. A motorcycle-deer accident slowed traffic (deer killed, motorcyclist was being tended to as I was driving by with ambulance on way). Not the kind of thing anyone wants to see...

Even before 6 am the cars were caravanning into the Black Swamp Observatory. Traffic now was being slowed by brand new Canada Goose goslings - too cute. I parked near the West entrance to the boardwalk and was greeted with the sound of Northern Waterthrush belting out its song in the tree overhead (?). A caucaphony of sound was coming from the boardwalk, including a very vocal Gray Catbird - many of these birds would be vying for attention this morning.

With partly-cloudy skies and a bright sunrise I decided to bring the Better Beamer this morning. I'm glad I did. Many of the birds were severely backlit and required a bit of fill. I'll need to tone down the intensity on the next trip.

I've decided that Black-throated Green Warblers are the kittens of the  bird world - I can't stop photographing them; they're too adorable.

Prothonotary Warblers were active near the tower, and made appearances at various locations farther east along the boardwalk. Not crushing views, but good enough looks by all.

"The invisible perch"

Northern Parula have arrived. They tended to be heard more than seen, though.

Black-throated Blue, Pine, Blackpoll, Nashville and Blackburnian Warblers were seen, as well as American Redstart, and Cape May Warbler. Yellow Warblers were everywhere, while Chestnut-sided Warblers were not.

Pine Warbler

I've been trying to get a decent pics of Yellow-rumped Warblers, which are probably the easiest birds to photograph this time of year. I finally had a few successes.

Warblers weren't the only draw. This American Woodcock put on a show just a few feet from the boardwalk. Bobbing and dancing while probing for worms it was all we could do to keep from squeezing it to death. House Wrens were vocal. Most of the thrushes moved on overnight, but a few Hermit, Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes were still around.

Gray-cheeked Thrush

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