Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Weekend outlook (April 23-24)

Thursday, April 21, 2011: We’re entering the period when the first really big wave of migrants from Neotropical regions could arrive in n.w. Ohio. The weather forecasts for the next few days hold out the possibility that we might have a moderate arrival of birds on Saturday, the 23rd, although my best guess at the moment is that we’re more likely to have big numbers next Tuesday, the 26th. The uncertainty about Saturday is because of doubts about conditions to the south of us. Winds may be favorable Friday night, for at least part of the night, but major rain to the south of us could shut down most of the small birds that are nocturnal migrants. Regardless, the winds are likely to be from the west-southwest on Saturday afternoon, and if they are, we may see the last really good hawk flight of the season in areas near the lake shore.

Even if no big wave of new birds arrives for the weekend, there are interesting early-season migrants around now. Today I made a brief pass through the Magee Marsh boardwalk to assess the situation. Birds were scarce near the west end of the boardwalk (perhaps because of strong west winds yesterday) but fairly numerous in sheltered areas near the east end.

For reference to the numbered spots mentioned below, see our map of the boardwalk on the main BSBO birding pages under “Birding Hotspots: directions and maps.” A pair of Eastern Phoebes appears to be attempting to nest again under the observation tower at the west end (between numbers 2 and 3). Hermit Thrushes are now widespread along the boardwalk, especially toward the east end. A somewhat early Wood Thrush was photographed by Ryan Lesniewicz, and later seen by several of us, foraging close to the boardwalk between numbers 29 and 32. Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Brown Creepers are present in fair numbers, mainly toward the east side. Small numbers of Winter Wrens are present – a tiny bird seen disappearing UNDER the boardwalk is likely to be this species – and a few House Wrens have arrived. A couple of Eastern Towhees are being seen consistently toward the west end, near number 6, and a few small groups of White-throated Sparrows are roaming through the woods. Rusty Blackbirds are past their peak migration but a few can still be heard; a good area for actually seeing them is near numbers 12 to 14, where there is some shallow water on both sides of the boardwalk.

With the trees not yet leafed out, it’s still easy to watch the sky from the boardwalk. Today we saw four Sandhill Cranes fly over near number 28, headed out toward the Magee causeway. Tree Swallows are up to their usual summer abundance, and Bank Swallows have returned and may be seen over the parking lot. Large numbers of Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck were still just offshore today.

The best local find today was by Barb Padgett, who spotted a Black-necked Stilt in flooded fields just south of State Route 2 and just east of Benton-Carroll Road (half a mile east of the Magee Marsh entrance road). If you go to look for this, exercise extreme caution – do not stop or slow down on S.R. 2! With care, you can check out the area by turning down Benton-Carroll road (there is room for a couple of cars to park on the west side, a couple of hundred yards south of S.R. 2).

Again, the outlook for this weekend is still up in the air – I’ll update if the weather forecast is clarified. The birding could be anything from fair to excellent. Next Tuesday might be a big day, but it should be easier to predict as we get closer to the time.


Dave said...

Tuesday?! Don't those warbly things know some of have to work?
Thanks for the update!

Unknown said...

Way to go, Barb!

I'll be glad when the weather starts acting more April-like. Sheesh.

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