Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Magee area migration 5/23

In the area of Magee Marsh, n.w. Ohio, today (Wednesday May 23) it was evident that umbers of migrants had picked up since Monday. Winds had been oddly variable Monday night but by Tuesday night they were more consistently out of the south, and many birds apparently came in overnight. This morning I had good numbers of Empidonax flycatchers at Magee, with all five species represented during four hours on the east beach and the boardwalk: 5 Yellow-bellied, 2 Acadian, 3 Alder, 6 Willow, 4 Least, and another 15 unidentified Empidonax that were silent or seen too briefly (mostly Willow/Alder types). This was the first good influx of Alder and Yellow-bellied that I had encountered this year, but these are notoriously late migrants anyway.

Diversity of warblers is starting to drop off a bit, but there were still good numbers of some things, especially American Redstarts (I saw at least 50, mostly females and young males). Blackpoll, Wilson's, and Canada Warblers were also present in good numbers. A lone Palm Warbler on the east beach was getting a little late. One Kentucky Warbler was a surprise (and I heard of sightings of two others). Everyone I met on the boardwalk was looking for Connecticut Warblers, but I didn't talk to anyone who had seen one. However, at least one was heard singing at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory's main banding site, about five miles east of Magee, this morning.

Notable among other migrants were at least 25 Swainson's Thrushes, at least 7 Lincoln's Sparrows, and at least 2 Philadelphia Vireos. Also interesting to me was a substantial flight of Blue Jays. During a couple of hours in mid-morning I saw at least 400 Blue Jays, in flocks of 3 or 4 up to 20 or 25, all moving silently east-southeast paralleling the lake shore. The May migration here is a well-known phenomenon, described in some detail in The Birds of Ohio (Bruce Peterjohn) and mentioned in Birds of the Toledo Area (Matt Anderson et al.) and Birds of the Cleveland Region (Larry Rosche). But I grew up thinking of this species as a cold-hardy permanent resident, and it's still startling to me to be out in late May, with foliage looking like summer and temperatures in the 80s, seeing flocks of Blue Jays still engaged in spring migration.

Current predictions are for southerly winds to continue for the next couple of nights, so I expect there will be continued turnover and bigger numbers for the next couple of days, and then decent numbers of migrants grounded on the lake shore over the weekend.

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