Saturday, November 29, 2008

Magee Marsh for Northern Shrike(s)

Most birders who cover this area regularly are aware that the causeway north across Magee Marsh to the beach and boardwalk is closed for part of the fall season. This year the road was closed most days from October 13 to November 29, open only on Sundays and on Saturday afternoons. During this period, birders with flexible schedules may get out of the habit of visiting. But this is November 29th, so as of noon today the road should be open all week once again.

I went to check it out this afternoon and saw at least one Northern Shrike, possibly two. Around 2:10 - 2:30 pm I watched an adult foraging in the area west of the first (southernmost) pullout on the causeway. About an hour later I went back to the area with Ron and Ryan Steiner; we spent a considerable amount of time scanning from the first and second pullouts, and after we'd been at the third one for several minutes, Ryan spotted a shrike perched up high, far to the west. We had very good looks in scopes but it would have been less satisfying in binoculars, so that's something to keep in mind. Because of differences in distance and lighting, I couldn't be positive, but my impression was that this was a different individual than the first one I'd seen.

Hugh Rose tells me that there had been other sightings near this third pullout during recent weekends. The third pullout is the northernmost one, closest to the beach. This was a good vantage point last winter as well. But the shrike(s) can show up anywhere along the causeway, especially if I'm correct about there being more than one bird.

Also present today were good numbers of waterfowl flying around (including both Tundra and Trumpeter Swans, plus good numbers of Wood Ducks and American Black Ducks). At one point there were five Bald Eagles overhead at the same time.
Later in the season there are likely to be a lot of Common Goldeneyes and other diving ducks offshore, but today there were very few birds off the beach, just a few gulls.

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