Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Migration Outlook May 2 - 6

Palm Warbler: Typically an early migrant. Big numbers arrived in the area during the last few days. Photo by Kenn Kaufman.

May 1: For the last 2 nights, conditions have seemed less than ideal for nocturnal migrants, but birds have moved in overnight anyway. Despite easterly or northeasterly winds at ground level, and a lot of rain in the general area, some migrants have been on the move. On Monday, April 30, the woodlots were filled with Yellow-rumped Warblers and Palm Warblers, while Baltimore Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were scattered everywhere. But especially today, Tuesday May 1, the migrants have been widespread in northwest Ohio, NOT strongly concentrated in the migrant traps along the immediate lake shore. In a brief visit to the Magee Marsh boardwalk today I saw a fair number of migrants; but according to my observations and reports from others, good numbers of migrants were scattered through various places 10 to 50 miles south of the lake. It looks like a general arrival of birds in the region, with many migrants put down locally by rain in a variety of spots.

(Interestingly, the situation in northEAST Ohio was quite different. Jen Brumfield reports that migrants were concentrated along the immediate lake shore today in the Cleveland area, with big numbers of warblers, sparrows, and others at sites like Wendy Park and Headlands Beach State Park, and far fewer migrants just a short distance inland. Jen and I compared notes and it’s not obvious why the distribution of migrants is so different, but it might have been because the rains arrived later in that part of the state, after the birds had reached the vicinity of the lake.)

However, starting tomorrow, Wednesday May 2, and continuing at least through Friday, conditions are looking good for major arrivals of migrants along the Lake Erie shoreline in n.w. Ohio. The weather patterns are setting up for a good flow of air out of the south, coming all the way from the Gulf of Mexico, and I expect that a lot of birds will come in on that train. The next three mornings (and possibly the next four – through Saturday morning) have great potential for arrival, turnover, big numbers and increased variety.

It’s hard to say whether or not Wednesday morning will be really big – that will depend on exactly where and when it rains to the south of us overnight tonight, and no one can predict that with precision. In migrant traps along the lake, such as Magee Marsh, Metzger Marsh, or East Harbor State Park, Wednesday morning could be anything from fair to outstanding. Thursday and Friday mornings look like they have good potential as well, and Saturday morning might also. Sometime Friday or Saturday the wind is likely to swing around to the north again, but by that time we will have a ton of migrants in the area to keep us busy until the next big arrival.

If you’re in the area during a day with southerly or southwesterly winds, watch the sky for diurnal migrants. Flocks of Blue Jays are on the move, flocks of goldfinches are flying along the lake shore, and we could see a good flight of Broad-winged Hawks. (Fair numbers of Broad-wings were moving today, with small groups passing over BSBO, even though conditions didn’t seem great for a flight.)

Metzger Marsh has been productive recently: along the road in, near the pulloffs on the right side of the road, there are some decent mudflats that have attracted many shorebirds. These included 10 Willets on April 30. Other birds seen at Metzger recently have included Yellow-headed Blackbird and Common Gallinule, and there was a report of a possible Tricolored Heron a few days ago.  And at Ottawa NWR, a Green-winged Teal of the Eurasian subspecies was reported on April 29 on pool MS 8b; this is a rare bird here and well worth seeing, even if it doesn't "count" as a separate species on our lists.  See the BSBO birding pages for maps and directions for these sites.

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