Friday, May 22, 2009

Updated weekend forecast: May 23-24

Last night (Thursday night, May 21), as predicted, the wind was out of the southwest until about dawn on Friday and then abruptly swung around to the northeast. Friday was much cooler than the couple of preceding days in birding sites along the Lake Erie shore.

In the woods of the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, there were good numbers of birds Friday but they were mostly not easy to see. Blackpoll Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, Red-eyed Vireos, and Swainson’s Thrushes were numerous. Young male American Redstarts (like females, but more orange-tinged and with spots of black on the face, and singing) seemed to be everywhere. Various other species were scattered through the woods, including Canada, Wilson’s, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Black-and-white, and Yellow Warblers, Scarlet Tanager, Black-billed Cuckoo, and White-crowned Sparrow. I had all five of the expected species of Empidonax, including an Alder Flycatcher singing persistently near no. 19 on the boardwalk in the afternoon and a single Acadian near no. 12. Most surprising was a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker near the west end of the boardwalk (around no. 3), an exceptionally late migrant here, the first one I’d seen since April. You never know what odd thing is going to turn up at Magee!

The wind is supposed to continue more or less out of the northeast for the next two nights and days, perhaps veering more to the east at times. It’s hard to predict what this will do to the migration. Numbers of birds seemed a bit higher at Magee on Friday than on Thursday. It may be that birds moving gradually north will pause longer at Magee and other lakeshore sites if there are unfavorable winds at night, so the numbers of migrants here may build up over the weekend. We have arrived at prime dates for Connecticut Warbler but so far we haven’t had a cooperative and viewable individual for everyone to enjoy, and we hope that one will turn up this weekend.

A couple of tantalizing birds have been briefly present the last couple of days. Rick Nirschl had a Kirtland’s Warbler singing along the Magee boardwalk (near no. 14) early Thursday morning; it moved off and as far as I know it hasn’t been found since, but might still be in the general area. Iain Campbell found a Ruff on Friday morning at Ottawa NWR, on Pool 2a (see our map of the refuge walking trails); he was able to show it to a group, but birders who looked for it at midday and early afternoon couldn’t find it. This is likely the same bird found Tuesday in a closed area of the refuge, so it may be shifting around, and undoubtedly some birders will check Pool 2a for it again over the weekend.

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