Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sabine's Gull 11/25 at Metzger, plus access to Magee Marsh

On Thursday, November 25, Delores Cole reports that the Sabine's Gull is still present at Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area, still providing good looks from the area of the parking lot at the end of the road at around 10:30 a.m. See previous posts for more information.

Delores (along with observers Bill and Ann Toneff) also saw large flocks of Snow Buntings along the entrance road into Metzger. The fields on the north side of the entrance road, just after the turnoff from State Route 2, are often very good for open-country birds like Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, Horned Larks, blackbirds, etc., and are always worth a look.

On a different listserve, I received a question about access to the causeway at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area (where a Northern Shrike has probably settled in for the winter). According to information from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the causeway and the areas beyond (boardwalk and wildlife beach) will be open to the public on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 27, and all day Sunday, Nov. 28. These areas will be closed the rest of the time for the next week and a half, through Friday, December 3. Then they should be open on Saturday, December 4, and for the rest of December. So if anyone is considering coming up to look at the Sabine's Gull -- it may not stick around after today -- it has already stayed longer than most previous Sabine's in Ohio. But if you can't get here until Saturday, looking for the Northern Shrike on Saturday afternoon would be an additional possibility.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sabine's Gull at Metzger 11/24

The Sabine's Gull at Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area, mentioned in the previous post, is still present as of about 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 24. Thanks to Erik Bruder for getting the word out quickly. The wind and the cold front that came through yesterday don't seem to have pushed the bird out, but this is a species that nests in the high Arctic, after all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sabine's Gull at Metzger Marsh

A juvenile Sabine's Gull turned up at Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area on the afternoon of Sunday, November 21. Sabine's Gull is a very rare migrant in Ohio; records are now almost annual along the Lake Erie shoreline in the eastern half of the state, but there are very few records for the region between Toledo and Sandusky. Sabine's Gulls found in fall are often seen for only very brief periods, but this individual actually has stayed for more than a day, and it is still present on Tuesday morning, November 23.

See our map of Metzger Marsh (under "birding hotspots: directions and maps" on the BSBO birding pages) if you're not familiar with the area. The road in to the wildlife area ends at a parking lot on the edge of Lake Erie, with a concrete fishing pier extending out into the lake. The Sabine's Gull has been spending time in the area just east of this pier. Part of the time it rests on the water out on the lake, often with Bonaparte's Gulls, at which time the Sabine's can be picked out by its much darker upperparts. Occasionally it gets up and flies around, showing its spectacular wing pattern.

When I first found the bird I was afraid that it would not even stay long enough for anyone else to see it. Now that it has stayed for more than 24 hours, there is a chance that it will stick around for a few more days. I'll try to post updates here as they become available.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Northern Shrike, Rough-legged Hawk, and other birds near Magee Marsh

At least one Northern Shrike has returned to the causeway that runs north across the marsh at Magee Marsh. This has been a reliable site to find the species for the last couple of winters. This afternoon (Sunday Nov. 7) I saw an apparent adult near the north end of the causeway (closest to the beach), and then later in the afternoon I saw one in flight near the south end of the causeway -- likely the same individual, but not necessarily.

Birders who want to look for this shrike will have to wait until next weekend. At this season the road in to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is closed for waterfowl hunting on weekdays and on Saturday mornings. But it is open on Saturday afternoons (after about 12:30) and all day Sunday, and it's well worth a visit then.

This afternoon I took advantage of the opportunity to check out the causeway and the east (wildlife) beach at Magee. The beach yielded nothing rare, but it held a good number of typical late-fall birds, including 13 Fox Sparrows, 9 American Tree Sparrows, 60 Rusty Blackbirds, and a Winter Wren. Along the causeway there were still Swamp Sparrows, and fair numbers of American Coots and Pied-billed Grebes. Three flocks of migrating Tundra Swans (totalling 31 birds) flew over headed west to east; the next couple of weeks will be an excellent time to watch for migrating swans anywhere in northern Ohio.

At about 3:30 this afternoon, a Rough-legged Hawk (my first one for the fall) flew past, just north of the parking lot for the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (just north of Route 2, at the entrance to Magee Marsh). It could have been a migrant, but the species does usually winter in this general area, especially over fields on Ottawa NWR just to the west of us. Jeff Gordon, the new president of the American Birding Association, had stopped by BSBO for a brief visit, and he got to see this bird just before he left to continue his drive west -- so the Rough-leg provided a bit of Ohio birding hospitality.

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