Friday, May 16, 2014

Migration forecast: May 16-18 and beyond

Friday, May 16: Starting with the major wave last Thursday, the 8th, we've had a series of good days in all the main stopover habitats of NW Ohio. Impressions from the lakeshore migrant hotspots, backed up by data from the main BSBO banding station, indicate that there haven't been any really huge migration days yet this spring; instead, we've had a long series of days with numbers somewhat above average. So the birding has been consistently decent, without the  kind of boom-and-bust swings that sometimes occur at this season.

Today, Friday the 16th, with cool temperatures all day, birds have been foraging relatively low, making for fine views at the woods near the lake. The Magee Marsh boardwalk was quite productive today, with multiples of Golden-winged Warbler and Olive-sided Flycatcher, a late Louisiana Waterthrush, a couple of singing Alder Flycatchers, and many other treats, including at least 25 warbler species. 

Looking ahead at the weekend of May 17-18, with cooler temperatures continuing and with some rain forecast for this evening, most of today's birds should still be around on Saturday the 17th, and probably on Sunday the 18th as well. There are likely to be scattered showers on Saturday, but the birding should be quite good in between. 

With a high pressure center sitting on top of us on Sunday the 18th and Monday the 19th, there won't be any major weather systems to bring in notable waves of migrants. I suspect we'll have more birds leaving than arriving on those nights, so Monday and Tuesday are likely to have lower numbers than the weekend, although still with good variety. Beyond Tuesday the weather forecasts are a little obscure, but it looks as if there could be another big wave of migrants coming in on Wednesday or Thursday, the 21st or 22nd. 

In recent days, Pearson Metropark (along Rt. 2 in the city of Oregon, farther west than Magee Marsh or Ottawa NWR) has been very productive. Many migrant warblers have been seen there, and Yellow-throated Warblers seem to be on territory near the building that has the "window on wildlife." The wetlands in the north section of the park, accessed from Seaman Road, have hosted a number of interesting waterbirds, including a Red-necked Phalarope and the amazing flock of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks that paid a brief visit. 

Shorebird migration has been very good this week also. The (self-guiding) Auto Tour at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is scheduled to be open this Saturday and Sunday, the 17th and 18th, and then closed for the rest of the month, so this would be a good time to check it out. Recently the Auto Tour has produced a decent variety of shorebirds, including Wilson's Phalarope, as well as American Bittern, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and other species. 

Finally, don't forget that the Friends of Magee Marsh are collecting funds for renovation of the famous Magee boardwalk, while the Ottawa NWR Association is raising money for enhancements to the Auto Tour on the Refuge. Both of these projects will be of direct benefit to birders visiting the area, and I encourage everyone to support both of these. 

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