Monday, May 14, 2007

Magee area migration 5/13, 5/14

In the area of Magee Marsh and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, northwest Ohio, on Sunday May 13, the status of migration was about as expected: numbers continued to drop gradually from the big influx last Tuesday and Wednesday, but variety continued to be very good, especially for warblers. On Sunday the east-northeast winds kept most of the birds low and inside the woods, and the crowds of birders on the Magee boardwalk were treated to eye-level views. It was great to see so many new birders there, many of them having their first real warbler encounters, enjoying a situation where they could see the birds well and get I.D. tips from more experienced birders. Indeed, I find the helpful atmosphere among the birders on the boardwalk to be almost as inspiring as the birds.

During the night Sunday night the wind shifted around to the southeast and then the south, and Monday May 14 brought a moderate number of new birds. It was actually more turnover than I had expected, given how late in the evening the wind shifted here. There was a fresh influx of thrushes and White-throated Sparrows, which had mostly cleared out before Sunday, and numbers of flycatchers picked up, with more Eastern Wood-Pewees and Least Flycatchers plus Willow and Acadian. Magnolia Warbler and American Redstart appeared to be the most numerous warblers on the boardwalk, but numbers of Canada Warblers definitely increased, and Mourning and Wilson's were around in numbers. I had the first Hooded Warbler and Philadelphia Vireo that I'd seen in a few days. Kim was at the main banding station of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory during the morning, about 5 miles east of Magee, and reported a fair influx of birds there also, with good numbers of flycatchers, thrushes, Magnolia Warblers, and others. Four Orange-crowned Warblers were banded today, a notable number any time and especially this late, since the Orange-crown tends to be an early migrant.

An interesting feature was an apparent arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Late in the day (after 6 p.m.) I saw or (mostly) heard more than a dozen Ruby-throats near the boardwalk and adjacent beach, in areas where I'd only had one earlier in the day. These are daytime migrants, and I assume these came in on today's south winds, stopping when they hit the barrier of Lake Erie.

Southwest winds are supposed to continue through tonight and tomorrow, shifting to west tomorrow night with some possible storms. My best guess is that there should be a lot of birds arriving overnight tonight, for good numbers Tuesday morning, and that the shift in the weather may then keep them around for a couple of days. The long-range forecast is always uncertain, but currently they're calling for south winds again Friday night.

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