Friday, May 14, 2010

May 14: spectacular migration plus Kirtland's Warbler

Friday, May 14: It's never possible to predict big arrivals of migrants with absolute certainty, but the predictions for today turned out to be right on target. This was by far the biggest day of the spring so far in terms of numbers of migrants along the lake shore in n.w. Ohio.

For the last few days we'd been having modest numbers but very good diversity. Today the diversity went up a little and the numbers were at least ten times what they had been. I started off by going to the east beach at Magee Marsh (about half a mile east of the boardwalk; see the BSBO birding map of the Magee area for clarification). The low trees near the beach were hopping with American Redstarts, Gray Catbirds, Least Flycatchers, Magnolia Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, and many other birds. I saw my first good numbers of Indigo Buntings for the spring, several Scarlet Tanagers, and a lot of other migrants including Orchard Oriole, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Mourning and Wilson's Warblers. Diurnal migrants were streaming past: flocks of Eastern Kingbirds, Blue Jays, Cedar Waxwings, and all the expected species of swallows.

At about 9:15 a.m. I was lucky enough to find a male Kirtland's Warbler. I was luckier still that it stayed around: I sent out the word via Twitter and cell phone, hundreds of people arrived during the next four hours while I was there, and it was still being seen after 4:30 pm. The location was along the east (wildlife) beach about 300 yards east of the parking lot. The bird was feeding low for the entire time, sometimes hopping on the ground, sometimes foraging among low branches of sumacs or willows, or even among brush piles. Often it was amazingly easy to see, and several times it flew toward crowds of people and foraged unconcernedly within a few yards of its admirers. I'm sure it was seen by over a thousand birders, and undoubtedly tens of thousands of photos were taken; this is probably the most-photographed Kirtland's Warbler in history!

Of course it's impossible to say whether the bird will still be there Saturday morning, May 15, but I'm sure that people will go to look for it. I will try to get the word out early if it is seen Saturday.

Right now the winds are still out of the west-southwest, and they should be out of the west for most of Friday night, shifting to northwest sometime Saturday. My best guess is that Saturday will have somewhat fewer individual birds than today, but still very large numbers, and lots of variety.

Aside from the excitement of the Kirtland's: I heard about sightings of roughly 30 species of warblers in the general area. Several Mourning Warblers were found in the woods at Ottawa NWR and the Magee boardwalk, and Golden-winged and a "Brewster's" hybrid were found at the latter location. The first C0nnecticut Warblers of the season were found at the BSBO banding station (on a closed section of Ottawa NWR), so the species should show up soon at the Magee boardwalk.

Nine American White Pelicans circled over the Magee - Ottawa area around the middle of the day. A Marbled Godwit was being seen from the observation platform on Stange Road (southwest corner of Ottawa NWR -- see the BSBO map of the refuge) and at least two Yellow-headed Blackbirds were being seen a short distance west of there on Krause Road.

1 comment:

Larry said...


Thanks for all the updates on migration. It was a nice resource to have while I was out there. Wish I would have stayed one more day and picked up that Kirtland's and all the others but I will just have to keep my fingers crossed for next year.

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