Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May 9 - 13: Two more waves incoming

A Northern Parula launches from a twig at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ohio, in early May 2018. Photo by Kenn Kaufman.

Tuesday May 8, 2018: After a very slow migration up through April 30th, the birding has been outstanding locally in the week since, making for a great start to The Biggest Week in American Birding. Large numbers of migrants came in overnight on several nights, and rain helped to put birds down in local habitats around May 3rd and 4th. Numbers of new arrivals haven't been as large for the last couple of days, but warblers, thrushes, and other migratory songbirds have remained numerous in woodlots near the Lake Erie shore, as they rest and feed to build strength for the next leg of their journey. 

At Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, a Neotropic Cormorant (very rare in Ohio) was along the auto tour May 5 and 6. It was near the northeasternmost corner of the auto tour route (identified on refuge maps as the corner of Trumpeter Trail and N. Estuary Avenue) but it would be worth watching for anywhere at Ottawa, Metzger Marsh, or Magee Marsh. A Rough-legged Hawk (common here in winter but very rare in May) lingered through this morning along Stange Road north of State Route 2, on the southwest edge of Ottawa NWR.

The new Howard Marsh Metropark (off Howard Road north of State Route 2, west of Metzger Marsh) has been outstanding for shorebirds this week. Big flocks of American Golden-Plovers have been consistent, with sightings of Black-necked Stilt, Ruddy Turnstone, Wilson's Phalarope, and others. American Pipits and Horned Larks have been in open areas along the entrance road. 

Looking ahead, winds are expected to be light and variable tonight (Tuesday night) under clear skies, so some migrants will be moving, but we don't expect a big arrival Wednesday morning. However, winds are supposed to shift to the south on Wednesday and to be strong out of the south and southwest that night, with scattered thunderstorms, so Thursday morning should see a widespread arrival of migrants, at inland sites as well as along the lake shore. Northerly winds on Thursday should keep birds grounded here. Then a strong flow on Friday night, bringing southwest winds all the way from the Gulf of Mexico, should usher in another major arrival of migrants on Saturday, as long as the forecast doesn't change too much. 

The wave of birds that arrived last week included an interesting mix of species that usually push through in late April (like Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers) with species more typical of the second wave in May (like Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided, and Blackpoll Warblers). Some of the typical later migrants are still scarce or absent. Very few flycatchers have arrived, and very few of the late warblers like Mourning, Wilson's, and Canada. If the weather forecast holds up, we should start to see more of such birds by this weekend. 

To recap, we expect very good birding to continue through the next six days. We should see a moderate arrival of new migrants on Thursday May 10 and potentially a bigger wave on Saturday May 12.  Conditions for the 12th should bring migrants to all good habitats along the lake shore, so if you're concerned about potential crowds at the Magee Marsh boardwalk on a big Saturday, there are several great alternatives, such as Maumee Bay State Park, Metzger Marsh woodlot, and all the woods at Ottawa NWR. Just east of Port Clinton, East Harbor State Park, Marblehead Lighthouse, and Meadowbrook Marsh are all excellent. Over in Erie County, Pipe Creek Wildlife Area and Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve can be outstanding on big flight days. You can find directions to these sites at this link. 


Anonymous said...

Ken - Fantastic analysis as usual. The forecast has changed considerably since your post on Tuesday, do you still see Saturday being excellent or will it be "just good" now?

Anonymous said...

What can you please tell me about birding conditions tomorrow Friday May 11?
Taking my 87 year old mom to magee Marsh and want to know if Saturday will be better!

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