Friday, May 2, 2014

Northern Ohio: 10 Birders, 100 Species

Tuesday through Thursday (April 29-May 1) John & Betty, Dick & Shirley, Jerry & Alison, Ken, Dayle, John and I birded around Toledo (Magee Marsh, Metzger Marsh, Oak Openings).  Warm summer weather on Tuesday morphed to winterish by Thursday. All days were windy, but it never rained while we were birding, and we had a great time.

Highlights included "walking into summer" on Tuesday afternoon. It was shirtsleeve weather as Ken, John and Dayle walked the Oak Lodge ranger station trail at the southeast corner of Oak Openings (below).  Lots of towhees and sparrows (including Field Sparrows singing in Ohio dialect and Lark Sparrows further east along Girdham Road).

Why had we worried about too many birders on the Magee Marsh boardwalk?  On Tuesday evening we had it almost to ourselves (below); the same early Wednesday morning.  Later on Wednesday and through Thursday morning there were still precious few birders, maybe half a dozen per hundred yards of boardwalk? 

Highlights at Magee Marsh included two male American Woodcocks dancing and displaying around a female with one male "winning the competition", then flying a victory circle above our heads as lightning flashed all around just before dark on Tuesday.

On Wednesday evening a Summer Tanager flew in for excellent views by John, Ken, Dayle and me.  As of this writing the local photographer who snapped several photos of this beautiful but weirdly-plumaged bird (see Sibley's drawing of the first spring male) has not sent photos, but I'll post them here when/if he does.  Probably the same bird displayed at the same place the next morning for the rest of our group (and Connie who showed up that day)! 

Yellow-throated and White-eyed Vireos were seen by some of us, Prothonotary and Canada Warblers by others.  Blue-headed and Warbling Vireos were everywhere, as were Nashville and Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Wood Ducks.  Mama eagle kept ripping food that Daddy kept bringing to their nest near the parking lot; a Sora walked around on his ridiculous green feet shortly after noon at Metzger Marsh; we had the greatest feather-counting view of a male Rusty Blackbird just below the Magee boardwalk, and of a woodcock almost as close probing its long beak full-length into the muck while still looking up with eyes set closer to the back than the front of its head; the trumpeter swans blared on their trombone mouthpieces; etc., etc., etc.  

We tallied 100 species for the trip: red-winged and rusty blackbird, bluebird, cardinal, catbird, chickadee, coot, cormorant, cowbird, crane, creeper, crow, dove, ring-necked, ruddy and wood duck, bald eagle, great egret, flicker, least flycatcher, gnatcatcher, goldfinch, goose, grackle, pied-billed grebe, grosbeak, Bonaparte's and herring Gull, Cooper's, broad-winged and red-tailed hawk, great blue and green heron, jay, junco, kestrel, killdeer, kingbird, ruby-crowned kinglet, mallard, martin, red- and white- breasted nuthatch, Baltimore and orchard oriole ...

... osprey, parula, phoebe, pigeon, Virginia rail, robin, shoveler, sora, nine "sparrows" (chipping, field, house, lark, Lincoln's, song, swamp, white-crowned and white-throated), starling, rough-winged and tree swallow, mute (not in Ohio) and trumpeter swan, scarlet and summer tanager, blue-winged teal, Caspian and common tern, thrasher, hermit and wood thrush, titmouse, towhee, turkey, blue-headed, warbling, white-eyed and yellow-throated vireo ...

... vulture, black-and-white, black-throated green, Blackburnian, blue-winged, Canada, magnolia, Nashville, palm, prothonotary, yellow and yellow-rumped warbler, woodcock, downy, red-bellied and red-headed woodpecker, wren and yellowthroat.

For the trip our gang recorded 13 warblers (eleven "named warblers" above plus Northern Parula and Common Yellowthroat).  We thought we should have had redstarts and ovenbirds too, but did not.

Of our pre-trip "target birds" (Lark Sparrow, Summer Tanager and Blue Grosbeak) only the grosbeak eluded us, probably because we were too early in the season, possibly because they were hunkered down from the wind.

- Ric