Tuesday, May 7, 2013

More birds coming May 9-10

Tuesday, May 7: After a big arrival of birds last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, things have slowed down.  As usually happens after such an influx, the numbers of migrants in the woodlots along the lake shore have gradually declined for the last four days.  Variety continues to be good, and a handful of notable birds, faithful to particular spots, have been crowd-pleasers.  For example, a very early Mourning Warbler showed up on May 1 at the west end of the Magee boardwalk and has been seen every day since.  One or two Worm-eating Warblers have been similarly cooperative.  But by today, overall numbers have become a little sparse.  

Weather conditions haven't been good for producing new flights since last Friday.  Persistently easterly winds haven't been especially favorable for bringing in new birds, and persistent bad weather to the south of us seems to have blocked a lot of migrants from coming north.  Typical May arrivals like Indigo Bunting and Eastern Wood-Pewee are still essentially absent, and migrants that will be abundant later in the month, like Red-eyed Vireo and American Redstart, have hardly begun to arrive.  Probably a lot of these birds are just a few hundred miles south of us, waiting for the weather to break and the wind to shift.  

The news is that such a weather change is about to happen.  After talking with Mark Shieldcastle, research director for BSBO, I'm confident that we'll see a lot of new birds between now and the weekend.  Even though no really large-scale weather patterns are set up to deliver birds to us, the migrants dammed up just to the south of us should show up as soon as conditions for them improve.

The timing still looks a little uncertain.  But it's likely that a few new migrants will show up Wednesday morning, May 8, as the weather improves to the south of us.  During the night Wednesday night, winds will be quite variable but they'll probably be from the south for at least part of the night, favoring the arrival of many more birds on Thursday.  During the day Thursday, according to current forecasts, winds will swing to the west and back to the south, with a good southerly flow Thursday night, so on Friday the 10th we should see a major arrival of birds.  It's likely to rain on Friday also, but in between showers the birding should be excellent.  We should see a major arrival of Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, and Bay-breasted Warblers, the first decent push of flycatchers, many more Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes, a few Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos, and so on.  

In the meantime, for birding on Wednesday, before the big arrival starts: if the Magee boardwalk is quiet, go check out sites a little farther away from the lake shore.  The woods behind the visitors' center at Ottawa NWR are always worth checking, as is the trail behind BSBO.  The auto tour route at Ottawa NWR (open every day through the 12th) has been consistent for Red-headed Woodpecker, and has a few pockets of shorebirds.  East Harbor State Park, just east of Port Clinton, is well worth exploring; many warblers were found there Tuesday.  Pearson Park, west of the turnoff to Maumee Bay State Park, has had good migrant numbers as well.  Or go farther west and explore some of the other units of the Toledo Metroparks, such as Swan Creek or Oak Openings.

Summary: Things should pick up just a little on Wednesday, May 8. We should see many more birds on Thursday, May 9, and even more on Friday, May 10.  Friday is likely to be rainy, but the birding should be very productive between showers, so bring your rain jacket or umbrella, and some waterproof protection for your optics and field guides, and come on out to join the fun!

1 comment:

Chris said...

Looking forward to it!

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