Monday, March 23, 2009

Continuing Northern Shrikes at Magee

As of today (Monday, March 23) there are two Northern Shrikes along the causeway at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. One was south of the first (southernmost) pulloff along the causeway, working the brush on both sides of the road, but spending much of its time out of sight. The other was west of the third (northernmost) pulloff (the one with the duck identification sign). (For clarification of these directions, go to the main BSBO birding pages and follow the link for "Birding hotspots: maps and directions.") The latter bird has been exceptionally easy to see for the last couple of weeks. It spends much of its time perched on a large multiflora rose tangle off to the west-northwest of the third pulloff. Part of the time it is down inside this tangle, or down in the vegetation elsewhere in the immediate area, but I have seen it each of the last five times that I have stopped and spent any time looking. This bird will probably leave for the north sometime in the next couple of weeks, but right now it is being unusually visible and reliable.

Seen again today were two Sandhill Cranes flying east across the causeway. Four were seen yesterday on Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, just west of Magee Marsh, and two more just west of Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area. This is the season when they could just be migrating through, but it's likely that a pair or two will set up summer territories in the extensive marshes of this region.

Also notable today in the Magee Marsh area was a sharp increase in the number of Double-crested Cormorants flying over (still not anywhere near summer numbers) and an influx of Bonaparte's Gulls. Rusty Blackbirds are now common in all the wooded areas along the road in to Magee, and many are in with the mixed blackbird flocks in agricultural fields south of Route 2 in the general area.

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