|Hermit Thrush: The earliest of the "brown" thrushes to move through northwest Ohio.|
Thursday, April 14th: Despite a rather unwelcomed snowfall over the past weekend, a quick shift of winds to the south last Sunday night led to a noticeable bump in short-distance migrant numbers in the marshes on Monday. In one night there was an immediate boost in Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Winter Wrens, Brown Creepers, and Brown Thrashers. These species and numbers continue to be present in northwest Ohio -- especially in areas such as the boardwalk at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area -- and can be expected to stick around while these northerly and easterly winds persist. Other passing species such as the Fox Sparrow can still be found in good numbers, but may take advantage of the next southerly wind and continue their journey northward.
While we are mostly at the tail-end of waterfowl migration, areas along the causeway at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, the pools at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area have been holding good numbers of American Coot, Green-winged Teal, and Blue-winged Teal. Other dabblers and a few species of divers can still be found mixed in with the deluge of teals and coots, but these birds (like the Fox Sparrow) may soon be gone with the next favorable wind.
With all of the recent rain and snowmelt, areas typically frequented by shorebirds have been too saturated for this group of birds to forage in. Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, and Wilson's Snipe are present in the region, but are being found in fields accustomed to flooding such as the Boss Unit of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Looking ahead: A persistent high pressure system is expected to move south along the Atlantic coast, driving northerly and easterly winds our way throughout most of the weekend. However, at some point during the night, winds from the south are predicted to arrive. But the exact night this shift will occur is unclear at this time. Conflicting weather maps are forecasting southerly winds Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night (with each map predicting a different night). Although it's a fairly broad time period, at least one day this weekend (Saturday the 16th, Sunday the 17th, Monday the 18th) should see some movement. This movement may include the departure of waterfowl, Fox Sparrows, and Eastern Towhees, but may also include another boost in Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers, kinglets, and the arrival of a few Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.
Update: After checking multiple forecast maps this afternoon, the current consensus is that winds will briefly shift to the south Sunday night, meaning there could be some movement overnight into Monday the 18th. There still seems to be some uncertainty about the timing of this wind shift, so paying attention to overnight wind direction throughout the weekend could prove advantageous for a good day of birding.