Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Migration Outlook May 3 - 7

Nashville Warbler playing hide-and-seek with the rain, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, May 2007. photo/Kenn Kaufman.
After Sunday’s big day on the Lake Erie shoreline, things were quieter on Monday May 2, with fewer birds around. The sites on the immediate lake shore slowed down the most, as many birds probably filtered to areas a short distance inland; there were still large numbers at some of the woodlots on Ottawa NWR, and around the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, for example, while the woods at Metzger and at the Magee boardwalk were somewhat less active (but still with good diversity). This is about as expected when a big arrival is followed a day later by winds shifting more northerly: in these conditions, birders need to check other sites besides the famous lakeshore spots.

Today (Tuesday May 3) is chilly and raining, with light north winds, and the birds that are here now won’t be leaving soon. The rain should clear out before Wednesday, but northerly winds will persist Wednesday during the day and most of the night. A small high-pressure area may move over us and shift the winds to southerly by sometime Thursday morning, but it looks unlikely that it will happen early enough to bring a new arrival of birds for that day. Regardless, Thursday May 5 should be a pleasant day outdoors, partly sunny with moderate temperatures. If the winds stay southerly through Thursday night, as currently predicted, Friday May 6 could see a good arrival of migrants, although I don’t expect it to be a huge one unless rains hit just before dawn. Forecasts for Saturday May 7 don’t seem clear yet, but given the conditions between now and then, it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll have a very good diversity of bird species around over the weekend. I’ll update as the weekend gets closer.

A couple of notes: on Monday, May 2, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were resting with other gulls and terns on the concrete pier at the end of the road at Metzger Marsh. Birds congregate here when no one is fishing from the pier, but at this season that doesn’t happen often. (If anyone is really keen to see a Lesser Black-back, or other gulls and terns, I’d recommend the beaches at Maumee Bay State Park or East Harbor State Park. Lesser Black-back is rare at this season but is a possibility at those sites.)

The causeway across the marsh at Magee Marsh has fewer ducks now than earlier in the season, but other marsh birds are picking up in numbers. On Sunday evening, May 1, a Least Bittern was calling consistently from east of the causeway near its north end, and Virginia Rails and Soras could be heard from the same spot.

At Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area, off Route 6 east of Fremont in Sandusky County, 19 or 20 American White Pelicans have been present for the last few days, visible from the observation platform on the north side of Route 6.

A pair of Trumpeter Swans has been highly visible on the Entrance Pool at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge recently. These are from the (re)introduced population, and opinions differ as to whether they’re “countable,” but it’s still a great opportunity to study the species up close.

Good numbers of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, White-crowned Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, and other birds have been coming to the feeders outside the “window on wildlife” at Black Swamp Bird Observatory. If you’re in the area, please consider stopping in to tell us what you’ve seen.

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