Saturday, May 8, 2010

Migration update May 8 and 9

Saturday, May 8: The birding turned out to be surprisingly good (considering the weather) in the wooded areas near the Lake Erie shoreline in n.w. Ohio today. Storms last night and very strong WSW winds today didn't make for an encouraging prospect, but birders who worked the interior and downwind sides of the woodlots wound up seeing very good variety of migrants. At the Magee Marsh boardwalk, numbers of migrants were modest but the diversity was excellent -- no one species predominated, so every time we raised our binoculars there was a good chance we'd be looking at something different. Excellent views of Golden-winged, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, and Nashville warblers, Northern Parula, Rusty Blackbird, Veery, Yellow-throated Vireo, etc., etc., were all crowd pleasers, and the action seemed to get better as the afternoon went along, with lots of happy birders still on the boardwalk after 6:30 pm.

The wetland areas on Ottawa NWR were a little slow, probably because of the effects of the high winds driving birds into hiding, but Sandhill Cranes were seen by many, and the wooded area behind the visitors' center produced many migrants. The woodlot at the end of the road at Metzger Marsh also held a number of migrants, including at least two more Golden-winged Warblers.

The winds tonight are diminishing but they have shifted around to west-northwest, not very good conditions for migrants to be on the move. By morning the winds should have died down to about 12 mph, but morning temperatures may dip below 40, so with the wind chill it's going to feel very cold at dawn. I suspect that most of the migrants that were around today will still be present on Sunday May 9. With the wind shift, they'll probably shift to more sheltered areas of the woods. At Ottawa NWR, the southeastern edges of the woodlots should become more productive. At Magee, there probably will be fewer birds along the edge of the parking lot, and more in the interior of the woods along the boardwalk, plus in woods near the Sportsmans Center and Black Swamp Bird Observatory. During the chilly part of the morning, if you can find a spot that's out of the wind but in the sunlight, warblers and other songbirds are likely to concentrate there.

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