Friday, April 30, 2010

Migration update 4/30

Friday April 30: As predicted, there was a good arrival of migrants this morning in the vicinity of the boardwalk at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. With the strong southerly winds, migrants were concentrated along the north edge of the woods (south edge of the parking lot), but there were also many inside the woods along the boardwalk itself. Birds were continuing to move into and through the area as the morning went on. As of midday, at least 19 species of warblers had been reliably reported from the boardwalk area, with highlights including Blue-winged, Golden-winged, Orange-crowned, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Singing male Blackburnian, Cape May, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, and Pine warblers were crowd-pleasers. Numbers of Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) and Palm warblers were greatly increased from the previous day, offering a chance to hear the songs of these birds repeatedly -- most birders don't get many opportunities to hear the song of Palm Warbler, a sort of rough trill broken by a repeated dip in tone.

Other notable arrivals today included Eastern Kingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Swainson's Thrush, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, White-crowned Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. At least four Whip-poor-wills were found roosting near the boardwalk -- one of the advantages of the number of birders present is that it increases the chance that these cryptic nightjars will be spotted. The rarest bird of the morning was a young male Blue Grosbeak seen and photographed near the tower at the west end of the boardwalk.

In terms of diurnal migrants, there were far fewer hawks today than yesterday. (Jen Brumfield called to report that many hawks were moving eastward along the lake shore east of Cleveland, so the migration has shifted since yesterday.) But many Blue Jays, swallows, and American Goldfinches were moving along the lake shore.

The strong south winds were such that birds were not likely to remain in areas that were not at least somewhat sheltered. Lee Garling reported that there were few birds in the woodlot at the end of the road at Metzger Marsh -- that woodlot is probably just too exposed to the wind on a day like this. Birds should filter into the more protected woods now, so the extensive tracts at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge should be excellent for the next several days, especially on the downwind side.


Anonymous said...

Given the strong south winds, whether 1st May is the best day to drive down to magee marsh broadwalk or next week is better? Excellent updates.. thanks..

Kenn Kaufman said...

Thanks for asking -- wish I knew the answer! Things change from day to day, and the weather predictions beyond this weekend are a little uncertain. Traditionaly the biggest numbers of species and individuals occur between about May 7 and May 18, but even within that span there can be slow days. Some of the warbler species that will be common later in May just haven't shown up yet, like Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Chestnut-sided, etc., and some of the other migrants are still in low numbers also. If you can only make one visit, and if your schedule is flexible, you might wait and watch the predictions after about May 5.

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a great day with the warbler sightings. I wish I could be there looking at the warblers. I would love to add some warblers to my life list.

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