Thursday, April 28, 2011

Weekend Outlook 4/30 - 5/1

Palm Warbler at Magee Marsh, April 28, 2011. photo/Kenn Kaufman.
It’s showtime! For the last three days, Tuesday through Thursday, April 26-28, warblers and other neotropical migrants have been all over n.w. Ohio, especially the migrant traps along the Lake Erie shoreline. Looking ahead, it appears that the weekend of April 30 / May 1 should be very good in the area. Although I don’t expect a massive arrival, the numbers and variety should be enough to keep us busy and happy through the weekend.

Mark Shieldcastle and I both have been looking at the weather forecasts independently, to try to get a read on what the migration will be like. The weather has been so unsettled that the forecasts are being revised frequently, so any bird predictions are a little uncertain, but here is how it looks at the moment.

Tonight (Thursday April 28) the wind was still strong out of the west-southwest at dusk. With overcast skies and wind shifting to west, it’s not a great night for migration, so some of the hordes of birds present today should stick around. By mid-morning Friday, the winds are supposed to shift toward the west-northwest. Those winds (not conducive to local migration) are supposed to continue through Friday evening, shifting to more northwest and then north during the night – and then swinging back around to southwest and then south just before dawn on Saturday! That might sound as if it would merely leave the birds confused; but forecasts show a low-pressure area approaching from the west and a high-pressure area moving off eastward over the Appalachians, and between them a sustained flow of air from the south. So despite the seemingly contrary winds for much of Friday night, I’m guessing that we’ll have a good arrival of new birds on Saturday morning. Saturday should be a good day to be outdoors, too, with diminished winds and fairly warm temperatures. Sunday may produce even more migrants, but it’s also likely to rain again, so that’s a factor to take into account.

Okay, so what has been around? Thursday 4/28 produced a phenomenal movement of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and excellent numbers of Palm Warblers, to go with the abundant Yellow-rumped Warblers. Based on what I saw and on reports from others, at least 23 warbler species were present between Magee Marsh and Metzger Marsh on this day, with highlights including Yellow-throated Warbler at both sites and Kentucky, Hooded, and Prairie warblers at Magee. These four warblers are all “overflight” species: they nest mostly to the south of us, and they often show up on the lake shore in late April when they overshoot or overfly their breeding range. (Several years ago, Mark Shieldcastle dubbed the late April wave the “Overflight Wave” because of the predictable occurrence of these southerners.)

Northern Parula at Metzger Marsh, April 28, 2011. photo/Kenn Kaufman.
In addition to the warblers, medium-sized songbirds like Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager, and Baltimore Oriole have shown up, and there have been big daytime flights of Blue Jays. Broad-winged and Sharp-shinned hawks are widespread as single birds, perhaps wind-scattered. I saw a Black Vulture, rare in n.w. Ohio, flying north over the town of Oak Harbor during strong winds on Wednesday April 27. The Tricolored Heron found by Sherrie Duris several days ago was seen as recently as Thursday morning along the causeway at Metzger Marsh.

If you’re coming into the area this weekend, the best strategy for seeing a lot of birds would be to spend time in multiple locations. The boardwalk at Magee Marsh and the woodlot at the end of the road at Metzger Marsh are obvious spots, but the area around BSBO headquarters (just north of Route 2 at the entrance to Magee) has been very active, and the woods behind the visitors’ center at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge should be hopping as well – especially if the wind shifts to the north. East Harbor State Park, just east of Port Clinton, is often jammed with migrants at this time of year, but I haven’t had a chance to check yet. In windy conditions, the downwind side of the woods is likely to have more birds; on a chilly but sunny morning, the birds are likely to be in the areas of the trees that sunlight hits first.

The gift shop / window on wildlife at Black Swamp Bird Observatory will be open essentially every day from now through the end of May; if you’re birding in the area, we’d be pleased if you would stop by and tell us what you’ve seen. Remember that you can download our birding maps for several local sites from the section of the BSBO birding pages titled “Birding hotspots: directions and maps.”

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for the Great Updates...

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