Sunday, May 6, 2012

Migration outlook May 7-12

Prothonotary Warbler at Magee Marsh. They seemed to come in a little later than expected this year, but they are now on territory along the Magee boardwalk. Photo by Kenn Kaufman.

Sunday, May 6, evening: The last few days have developed about as expected.  We had decent arrivals of birds Wednesday through Friday mornings, May 2-4 (especially on Thursday, May 3).  Then the wind shifted to more northerly; fewer birds arrived on Saturday and today, but a good variety of species could be found, with birds staying over from the big push of the preceding days. 

At this point in the migration season, birds are going to be moving if they can, even if conditions are not totally favorable.  So, for example, more Prothonotary Warblers have arrived in a noticeable way at the Magee boardwalk just within the last couple of days, bucking the northerly winds to come in and set up territories.  This evening, the winds are relatively light and from the east, so we'll probably see more arrivals on Monday morning, May 7 -- probably not a major flight, but perhaps with increasing numbers of some "second-wave" birds like Magnolia Warbler. 

After tonight, the winds are likely to go more northerly again for a few days.  Current weather forecasts are a bit sketchy, but the wind may not go back to southwest until Friday, May 11.  If it works out that way, we should continue to see good variety but only moderate numbers this week, with new individuals trickling in and many of the current crop of migrants staying where they are.  With migrants being held up south of us by these conditions, when the wind does shift it could be a good setup for a big arrival of birds toward the end of the week, even if the southwesterly winds on Friday are not associated with a major weather system.  So next weekend could be very good, but it's early to say for sure.

A few local notes: An Upland Sandpiper has been seen from the west side of Stange Road, just s.w. of Ottawa NWR, in a large open field north of Rt. 2.  With northerly winds this weekend, the sheltered woods behind the visitors' center at Ottawa NWR were productive, with many warblers including Canada, Wilson's, and Hooded.  At Metzger Marsh, near the last major bend on the way in, Virginia Rails and Soras have been vocal and occasionally seen.  On Saturday morning, skilled observers had a brief look at a Black Rail there.  This species is very rare here and very elusive, and it might not be seen again, but it's worth thinking about if you're in the area.  At Metzger Marsh, please do not park on the road -- use the pulloffs along the side of the road beyond the last major bend. 

Twitter: If you're coming to the area and have a smartphone that will run this app, it's very worthwhile to follow BiggestWeek on Twitter.  Guides for The Biggest Week In American Birding are "tweeting" the locations of interesting birds, both on the Magee boardwalk and throughout the area. With so many keen birders in the region right now, even a "slow" day will produce many great sightings, and the Twitter feed gives you a chance to find out quickly when something new is spotted.  If you don't have a smartphone, you can see the Twitter feed on the large screens at Black Swamp Bird Observatory and at the registration area at the Lodge at Maumee Bay State Park.  Or you can get the Twitter feed directly to your computer when you're online; look for the link at

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