Friday, May 1, 2015

Monday May 4th Looking Good

Male Yellow-rumped Warbler: coming soon to a tree near you
Note: I'm very pleased to introduce Ryan Jacob as a contributor to these updates. Ryan is working as an Outreach Specialist at Black Swamp Bird Observatory, and he's a very skilled birder with strong knowledge of birds and migration throughout n.w. Ohio. Ryan and I, with input from migration guru Mark Shieldcastle, will be working to keep these updates current throughout May. - Kenn Kaufman

Posted by Ryan Jacob on Friday May 1st: The beginning of May can only mean one thing...songbird migration will soon be in full swing. Rusty Blackbirds, American Tree Sparrows, and Golden-crowned Kinglets are mostly gone and by now finding around twenty species of warbler shouldn't be a difficult task. Unfortunately for those of us in Northwest Ohio, persistent northerly winds have kept the first wave of migrating songbirds far south of the western basin of Lake Erie.

Despite the wind direction, a sparse number of migrating males have made the push to head north. The past couple of nights (particularly a slight southern wind Tuesday night) have allowed for a minor rise in diversity, but not volume. Recent visits to the Magee Marsh boardwalk and area have produced around ten species of warbler including Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, Palm, and Nashville. 

Looking ahead, weather forecasts show that Friday May 1st will bring a rise in temperatures and a steady shift in wind direction throughout Friday and Saturday. This shift coincides with the eastward movement of the high pressure system that has been looming over Ohio and a new low pressure system developing in the central U.S. This low pressure system is the kind that is needed to bring the overdue southwest winds and birds that have been expected for the past week. 

This steady shift should bring in some new birds to the area (at least a small a amount of new species) by Sunday May 3rd. But at this time it is expected that Monday May 4th should be a fairly good day to get out and look for new arrivals. Depending on the effects of the low pressure system, a huge volume of birds may not be seen but diversity should definitely increase. Assuming that conditions are favorable through Sunday night, there is an expectation for high numbers of male Yellow-rumped Warblers as well as decent numbers of Palm, Nashville, Black-and-white, and Black-throated Green Warblers, with smaller amounts of other warblers scattered throughout stopover habitat. Other high numbers to look forward to will be Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, and White-throated Sparrows (which have already begun to move in along the lake shore). Along with these migrants, also be prepared for sightings of male Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. 

Since this wave is arriving so late (usually occurring around April 25th) it is unclear exactly which wave or waves will be arriving. Banding results from Black Swamp Bird Observatory's Navarre Unit research station and general observations from around the area will help indicate whether a normal (albeit delayed) migration schedule is occurring or if we are seeing some elements of the second wave mixing in with the first. If the latter is happening, along with high numbers of male Yellow-rumped Warblers, a good number of female Yellow-rumpeds can be expected as well. And if any significant numbers of Magnolia, Bay-breasted, and Chestnut-sided Warblers are present on Monday, that would be a strong suggestion that some of the second wave is trickling in. Ordinarily, the average date for the second wave is around May 7. 

For those who can't get out Monday and Tuesday it is still worth exploring the area this weekend, May 2nd and 3rd. Along with the potential for Sunday to produce new warblers, good numbers of Dunlin, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Snowy Egret, and Semipalmated Plover have been seen throughout Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area -- which  has also been host to Ruddy Turnstone, Willet, White-faced Ibis, American Avocet, and Black-necked Stilt throughout the past week (the Stilt being seen as recently as April 30th and the Ibis and Avocet reported this morning, May 1st). The Black-necked Stilt was discovered Thursday evening foraging in the mudflats near the second and third pulloffs beyond the major bend, and around fifty Avocets are being seen near the second pulloff. 

Due to conflicting wind maps, pressure system maps, and daily temperature forecasts it is unclear what will happen after Wednesday night. Further monitoring over the weekend should give a more accurate idea of what we can expect during the upcoming week and an update will be added soon. 

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