Friday, October 20, 2006

Hermit Thrushes, Com. Moorhen, northwest Ohio

With limited time today, I went out to the small patch of woods at the end of the road at Metzger Marsh, Lucas County. This woodlot on the edge of Lake Erie is small enough to concentrate any migrants that are in the area and it gives me a quick read on what birds are moving. The bird of the day there today (Friday Oct. 20) was unquestionably Hermit Thrush -- I saw / heard at least 50 in an area of woods that can't be much more than an acre in size. Several times there I had five or six visible at once. No other thrushes (except robins) were seen or heard.

Later I heard that this had also been a huge day for Hermit Thrushes at the main Black Swamp Bird Observatory banding site, on the shoreline of the Navarre Unit of Ottawa NWR, about 10 miles east of Metzger. But Kim and I checked out another wooded site south of Magee Marsh, a mile or two south of the lake, late in the day, and had only a few Hermit Thrushes, so the species may have been quite localized along the lakeshore itself.

At Metzger and south of Magee, Ruby-crowned Kinglets were abundant today, far outnumbering Golden-crowns. Other migrants were in expected numbers. The Metzger woods had one Orange-crowned Warbler (foraging in the goldenrods) and one Blackpoll Warbler along with the Yellow-rumpeds, as well as an Eastern Phoebe, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and five Brown Creepers.

Out on the marsh itself there are still hundreds of American Coots, and I saw one Common Moorhen with them. According to published reports, moorhens were common in the Lake Erie Marshes half a century ago, and late October would have been well within the expected span of dates; but these days the species occurs here only in very small numbers in summer, so the date seemed notable.

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