Friday, March 21, 2008

Metzger and BSBO, March 19-20

A week ago, the marsh areas at Metzger were still mostly frozen (but with about 5000 waterfowl in the open spots). By Wednesday March 19, the marsh was almost entirely open and the water was quite high. Numbers of ducks here are outstanding. On the 19th I made a careful estimate of 4000 Redheads, 900 Ring-necked Ducks, 700 Canvasbacks, 500 Gadwalls, 500 Mallards, and lesser numbers of 12 other ducks, 17 duck species in all. Also present were a few Pied-billed Grebes, plus hundreds of Canada Geese and American Coots. Mute and Trumpeter Swans were here in small numbers. (There are at least a thousand Tundra Swans in the general area but they seem to be feeding in the fields near Rt 163 several miles west of Oak Harbor, and roosting in Ottawa NWR and Magee Marsh WA.) Lake Erie is still mostly frozen over off Metzger, but by the evening of the 20th there was a substantial opening in the ice just off the end of the canal at the end of the road, with a collection of Lesser Scaup and Canvasback. There are a few Greater Scaup in with the Lessers on the canal and on the marsh, for some good comparisons.

On the evening of the 20th there appeared to be slightly fewer ducks present, but the birds move around a lot (for example, hundreds flush every time a Bald Eagle flies over). The spectacle will be well worth seeing for at least the next couple of weeks.

It sounds like a joke (and in some cosmic sense, it is a joke), but the National Weather Service is predicting 3 to 8 inches of snow locally for March 21-22. If you don't get snowed in, consider checking out the Lake Erie marsh scene. About sunset on the 20th, Kim and I were at the BSBO office (just north of Rt 2 at the entrance to Crane Creek / Magee Marsh). Hundreds of Tundra Swans were coming over, in groups of a dozen or two, and thousands of Canada Geese and various ducks. At one point I heard the high-pitched yelping of Greater White-fronted Goose, and sure enough, there were four White-fronts together with a V of Canadas. Rusty Blackbirds were calling with the flocks of grackles and Red-wings in the trees, and of course as the sun went down the American Woodcocks began giving their peent call. Regardless of weather, this is a fabulous time of year to be in northwestern Ohio.

Nature Blog Network