Friday, April 18, 2008

Magee and Metzger, April 17-18

The last several days have featured warm temperatures and winds with a strong southerly component, and a lot of migrants have been riding that train north into our area, with large numbers of arrivals the last three days. At least 14 species of warblers were reliably reported from the Magee boardwalk on April 17 - 18. The most surprising was probably the very early American Redstart found by Rick Nirschl. Others were all species expected in the early part of the migration, including multiple singing N. Parulas, Black-throated Greens, Pines, and Nashvilles, and scores of Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers. "Overshooting" southern warblers were represented by Hooded and Prothonotary (although the latter could have been a local breeder) and a Louisiana Waterthrush, found in the same area as a Northern Waterthrush near the west end of the boardwalk. The diversity of warblers present is quite good for this early date, undoubtedly just reflecting the very favorable flight conditions of the last few days and nights; as recently as a couple of weeks ago, the migration seemed to be behind schedule.
Other migrants present at Magee included very large numbers of Hermit Thrushes (I probably saw 60+ in a few hours on 4/18) and increasing numbers of White-throated Sparrows. Ruby-crowned Kinglets now far outnumber Golden-crowned. On 4/18 I saw one Blue-headed Vireo, two House Wrens, at least 10 Winter Wrens, and at least 20 Rusty Blackbirds. A push of Field Sparrows came in this week but by 4/18 I could find only one American Tree Sparrow where there had been many a few days earlier.

At both Magee Marsh and Metzger Marsh I heard Soras, Virginia Rails, and singing Swamp Sparrows. The water in Metzger is still very high, with no shorebird habitat evident yet, but on 4/17 I saw 16 species of ducks there.

Some fields on Krause and Stange Roads (between Magee and Metzger) have been burned recently, and these would be worth watching for American Golden-Plovers over the next couple of weeks. On 4/17 I saw a male Yellow-headed Blackbird with a mixed blackbird flock in a corn stubble field on Krause Road.

The forecast calls for cooler temperatures this weekend and a good chance of rain, but the southerly wind flow looks likely to continue for a few more days. There is turnover every day now, so the individuals present at migrant traps on the lakeshore will probably change, but I expect the diversity to continue to be good (for this early in the season) throughout the weekend.

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