Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 24-26: Next Migrant Wave

The unsettled weather and rain of the last couple of days have not stopped the movement of birds into the area. Probably these birds are moving only short distances, but their numbers in habitats near the Lake Erie shoreline have continued to increase since Saturday. On Monday, April 20, young ace birder Phil Chaon went exploring in the rain and found a couple of great species not far from BSBO. Around noon he saw two Franklin’s Gulls on Benton-Carroll Road, on the second pond south of State Route 2 (Benton-Carroll is less than half a mile east of BSBO and the entrance to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area). Late in the afternoon, on Stange Road (near the west edge of Ottawa NWR) half a mile south of Route 2, a flooded field held large numbers of Pectoral Sandpipers and American Golden-Plovers, and with them Phil found a Ruff -- a male molting into breeding plumage. I checked the spot this morning (Tuesday 4/21) and the birds had left, but they may still be somewhere in the area.

The weather is supposed to continue to be rainy, with variable winds, through much of Wednesday 4/22. But by Thursday, according to current forecasts, there will be a sustained air flow from the south or southwest, and it is predicted to continue for about three days. On the basis of current forecasts, I think that Friday, 4/24, will be the next big arrival of migrants in the woodlots and marshes along the Lake Erie shoreline, and there are likely to be more birds piling in on Saturday and Sunday, 4/25 - 4/26, probably with a lot of turnover.

This next wave should increase the variety of birds present as well as the numbers. The diversity of warbler species on the Magee Marsh boardwalk, currently stuck at three or four, should increase to at least ten or twelve over the weekend, with Black-throated Green, Palm, Nashville, and Black-and-white almost certain to show up, and a good chance for an Orange-crowned or two. This late April time frame usually produces a few male Scarlet Tanagers, looking oddly out of place among the still mostly leafless trees, and often big waves of White-throated, White-crowned, and Swamp Sparrows.

At any rate, unless the weather forecast changes (which is always possible!), Friday looks like the next big day on the lake shore.

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