Friday, May 28, 2010

Migration update May 28

Friday, May 28: After the good numbers of migrants last weekend in the woodlots near Lake Erie, things were gradually trailing off from Monday through Thursday of this week, and then dropped off sharply today. The weather has been very warm all week, so even though the winds have not been favorable for migration, birds obviously have been continuing their northward trek.

Up through mid-week, there were still good numbers of such typical late migrants as Wilson's, Blackpoll, and Canada warblers, American Redstarts, Swainson's Thrushes, Red-eyed Vireos, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Least, Yellow-bellied, Willow, and Alder flycatchers. By today (Friday), only the cuckoos were really in evidence. This doesn't mean that the migration is over: some birds like Swainson's Thrush and Wilson's Warbler should still be passing through as late as June 5. But evidently a lot of birds left on Thursday night, and (perhaps because of thunderstorms that came through the area very late) no new birds came in to replace them.

The most sought-after migrant at this season is that elusive skulker, Connecticut Warbler. There were reliable reports each day this week, from the boardwalk at Magee Marsh or from the boardwalk behind the nature center at Maumee Bay State Park, but none of these birds proved cooperative for numbers of birders to see them. The only individual that I heard about today (Friday May 28) was along the Magee boardwalk near number 5.

Looking at the weather predictions for tonight and for the next few days, I don't see any conditions that would produce huge numbers of late migrants, although there undoubtedly will be some minor pushes of migrants during the next week or ten days. If you're in the area and want to look for Connecticut Warbler, my best advice is to walk quietly on trails inside the woods (like the Magee boardwalk, trails at Ottawa Natl Wildlife Refuge, Maumee Bay State Park) and keep watching wherever you can see the ground back in the deep shade. Connecticut Warbler walks slowly and deliberately on the ground, and you just might get lucky and spot one. If you're out early in the morning, you might hear a male singing its choppy song and you might be able to track it down by sound.

Shorebird migration will still be going on for another couple of weeks, if you can find a patch of good habitat. The entrance pool at Ottawa NWR is still worth checking -- Dan Sanders and Doreene Linzell found a Black-necked Stilt there on May 25 -- as is the area of Krause and Stange roads on the southwest edge of the refuge. The beaches at East Harbor State Park and Maumee Bay State Park get some interesting shorebirds, but on this holiday weekend you would have to arrive early before the crowds scare the birds away.

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