Monday, May 26, 2008

Migration May 26 and 27

By this stage in the migration, the birding is becoming more of a challenge: the trees are fully leafed out, there are more female migrants than males so fewer birds are singing, and the birders are harder to impress than we were back in early April when we were desperate for migrants!

Today, Monday May 26, was actually a very big day for migrants on the lakeshore in northwest Ohio. The main BSBO banding site, at the Navarre Unit of Ottawa Natl Wildlife Refuge, had one of its biggest days of the spring for numbers of birds. But many birders who went to the boardwalk at Magee Marsh reported that it was "slow." I was at the BSBO banding site for a while in late morning and then at the Magee boardwalk in early evening and I was impressed with the numbers of birds in both places. But the birds weren't obvious; it took patience to find them. At this time of late spring it's most effective to move slowly, pause frequently, and watch for things moving quietly in the foliage. I actually thought the birding was excellent at Magee, with two Connecticut Warblers, at least 10 Mourning Warblers, and multiple Canada, Wilson's, Blackpoll, Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, and other warblers, plus Gray-cheeked and Swainson's Thrushes, Philadelphia Vireo, Yellow-bellied and Alder Flycatchers, and Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos, all during a couple of hours on the boardwalk. (In most places, that would add up to a great day of birding!) But there were periods of a few minutes at a time when I wasn't seeing anything, so I can understand the impression that it was "slow."

The two Connecticut Warblers that I saw were both females, one in the heavy brush just northwest of number 16 on the boardwalk (seen by many during the day), the other hiding in the garlic mustard north of no. 5. I heard that a male was seen also, late in the day, near no. 23. (See our boardwalk map under "birding hotspots" on the BSBO birding pages.) Mourning Warblers and thrushes were generally distributed wherever there's dense low growth, and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were widespread in the lower middle story inside the woods. During the evening, at least 20 Common Nighthawks came over the woods.

Tonight (Monday night) the wind is still out of the southwest, and I'm guessing that there will be more turnover tonight, but it's hard to say whether Tuesday will be better or slower than today was. Sometime Tuesday, the wind will probably shift to the northeast, and whatever migrants are here will probably wind up staying for a while. Regardless, the Magee boardwalk is one of the best places in the U.S. to look for migrant Connecticut Warblers right now, and the chances should continue to be fairly good for the next few days.

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