Friday, August 28, 2009

Magee boardwalk migrants 8/28

Early fall birding at the boardwalk at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area has a very different feel from birding there in spring. In mid-April, you can traverse the boardwalk and feel pretty certain that you're seeing every warbler there, even if it's only four or five species. In early fall there are a lot more individuals and a LOT more variety, but you can't even hope to see every bird. The vegetation is just so thick that it's a challenge to see birds. But you can tell that there are a lot of them around, so it's sort of like reaching into a grab bag to see what selection you can come up with.

Between rain showers today (Friday, August 28 -- it would have been Roger Tory Peterson's 101st birthday) I made a quick check of the west end of the boardwalk. As expected at this season, migrants are strongly clustered in small flocks, with essentially no birds in between flocks. Still, in a short visit I was able to find a couple of mixed flocks and a good diversity of migrants. The two good concentrations were near number 6 on the boardwalk and between numbers 8 and 9. For the locations of these numbers, go to our birding pages and follow the links for "birding hotspots: maps and directions."

It was interesting to see five Veeries and no other brown thrushes; Veery is quite an early migrant in fall. Three Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were of interest also, and migrant warblers included three Chestnut-sided, three Tennessee, two Nashville, one Wilson's, one Black-and-white, and one Black-throated Blue. I also saw one Prothonotary Warbler, something of a surprise; Prothonotaries nest here, but the species is such an early fall migrant that it's quite possible that the local nesters have left already and that this was a stray from elsewhere. A Philadelphia Vireo and several Warbling Vireos were feeding on the conspicuous whitish fruits of Roughleaf Dogwood (Cornus drummondii), as were two of the Veeries, several Cedar Waxwings, and a couple of Downy Woodpeckers. The most anomalous sighting was of a single Red-breasted Nuthatch in the cypress trees near no. 6 on the boardwalk ... I'm not sure what it was doing here at this season.

Be advised that there are a lot of mosquitoes in the woods at Magee now, enough that I actually used repellant, which I seldom do. Be sure to carry repellant if you want to have an enjoyable birding experience there in the next few days. Also note that some fallen leaves have accumulated on the boardwalk, and these can be extremely slippery, especially when they're wet.

At the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (just north of Ohio State Route 2 at the entrance to Magee Marsh), Karen Zach saw several migrants this afternoon visiting the water feature outside the Window on Wildlife, the most notable being a Mourning Warbler. BSBO will be open 11 to 5 both days this weekend, August 29 and 30.

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