Monday, March 9, 2009

Waterfowl, Rusty Blackbirds, and other early migrants

Northern Pintails flying along the edge of Lake Erie

By now, at the beginning of the second week in March, spring migration is in full swing in northwestern Ohio. Waterfowl are moving through the area in large numbers. With the recent rains and warmer temperatures, the marshes and the lakeshore areas are mostly ice-free. Many ducks and swans are visible from the causeway at Magee Marsh, and Wood Ducks are being seen on the causeway and at the small ponds back by the Magee boardwalk. Metzger Marsh had large numbers of waterfowl today (Monday March 9), with 17 species present. Redhead was the most numerous species, but there were also good numbers of American Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, and Lesser Scaup. Hooded Mergansers were concentrated in the canal that parallels the road, not out on the marsh, and the male Hoodeds were actively displaying. (See our map under "Birding hotspots: directions and maps" on the BSBO birding pages.)

American Woodcocks have returned and may be heard doing their flight displays at dusk at many sites in the area. The John Gallagher Memorial Trail, behind BSBO, is a good place to hear them. Other good spots include open fields at Maumee Bay State Park and Mallard Club Marsh.

Large flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles have arrived, and flocks of Rusty Blackbirds are just now becoming widespread. At least 200 Rusties were in the swampy woods near BSBO today, according to Kim Kaufman. I saw about 80 in a woodlot on Stange Road just south of its intersection with Krause Road (just west of Ottawa NWR) and about 30 on the way in to Metzger Marsh. Look for this species in any kind of swampy woods, or sometimes mixed with other blackbirds feeding in open fields.

Raptor migration is under way as well, with Red-shouldered Hawks moving through the area. I saw one over the town of Oak Harbor today and another near Metzger Marsh. Mark Shieldcastle counted at least 20 passing over a site west of BSBO and just south of Route 2 today. At this time of year, we can expect to see migrating Red-shoulders anywhere near the lake shore, especially on days with a southwest wind.

The big waves of warblers are still more than a month away, but there's a lot happening now. Northwest Ohio will be hopping with migrants for the next three months!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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