Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Magee Marsh, OH. 22 - 23 May 2011

I've returned to Magee where the morning of the 22 May brought a really big push of migrants. 2 Black-billed Cuckoos were in the parking lot and large flocks of Blue Jays (moving east) and Cedar Waxwings (moving west) were going over. The north-east corner of the parking lot (now officially my 'patch' as I seem to be the only person that goes there) was good again, with a Mourning Warbler, female Purple Finch, Philadelphia Vireo and 3 Wilson's Warblers. There were lots of Empids in the wood today. Lots of Least Flycatchers, quite a few 'Trails' and the largest number of Yellow-bellieds that I'd seen in one day here.
After lunch I decided to explore and look for some good habitat next to the lake. Lakeway Drive runs parallel with Lake Erie and then finishes at the marina, so this seemed a good place to look - I wasn't disappointed. My only Orange-crowned Warbler of the trip was feeding in trees right next to the shore line, whilst in a small wood at the junction of Lakeway and Waterway Drive there was a female Hooded Warbler plus a pair of Black-billed Cuckoos. At the marina end of Lakeway was a Red-headed Woodpecker, Cape May Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Ovenbirds.
Along Park Colony rd (runs south from Lakeway) there were some waders of which Marbled Godwit and Pec Sand were the pick.
The day ended off nicely with a female Hooded Merganser at the Ottowa-Lucas Rd plus 2 Cattle Egrets on the south side of the road between the turnings for Ottowa and Magee.

The morning of 23 May was my final morning. The number of birds had fallen considerably on the previous days birding. An Eastern Towhee was a new bird for the trip, but the best location was the north-east section of the parking lot which had 2 male Mourning Warblers and a female Blackburnian.

Photos: Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler (2), Blackburnian Warbler, Swainsons's Thursh, Baltimore Oriole, Black-billed Cuckoo, Dunlin (2), Orange-crowned Warbler, Canada Warbler (2), Mourning Warbler (3), Yellow Warbler, Purple Finch (2), Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Finally, the Lucas-Ottowa Road had Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 4 Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sand, 10 Semi-p Plovers, 5 Semi-p Sands and about 100 Dunlin.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Waterloo State Rec Area, Michigan. 20 - 21 May 2011

I spent 24 hours in Waterloo State Rec Area with the target species of Henslow's Sparrow and Acadian Flycatcher. I headed off to St Jacob Evangelical Lutheran Church on Riethmiller Road for Henslow's and after a bit of searching found at least 6 birds feeding in the long dry grassy field due west of the church (I saw 3 of these and heard at least another 3 singing). With a bit of patience you can get good views of the birds, usually feeding around the lower stems of the larger grass clumps. There was also a few Sandhill Crane and Eastern Bluebird in the area.

I then headed over to Mclure Road and birded the area between Bush and Loveland, where I also headed at first light the next day. I managed to see 3 Acadian Flycatchers before the light faded along with White-breasted Nuthatch, Scarlet Tanager, Ovenbird and Red-eyed Vireo.
The next morning I revisited the area hoping to see Cerulean Warbler, but although I could hear birds singing in the canopy I couldn't get onto any. Wild Turkey, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-eyed Vireo and 2 Hooded Warblers (a singing male and a female both within 500 yards of the Waterloo Area Headquarters. I then headed off to Cassidy Road (where I had a ringtail Northern Harrier) and birded the area between the junction with Roe Rd and half a mile east of there. Along the road I had another 3 Acadian Flycatchers, Indigo Bunting, Pileated Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blackburnian Warbler and just when I had given up seeing Cerulean Warbler found a pair nest building just metres from my car. The female did all the building whilst the male spent most of the time singing. I've put some video of the female nest building at the bottom of this post.
Photos: Acadian Flycatcher (3), Pileated Woodpecker, Scarlet Tanager, Cerulean Warbler (2 photos plus 1 video).

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Mio, Michigan, 19 - 20 May 2011

The purpose of this visit was to go on the Kirtland's Warbler trip in Mio State Forest. On the way up there I stopped in at Nayanquing Point Wildlife Area. The heavy rain made it tough to find stuff, but King Rail, 3 Least Bittern, American Bittern (heard only), 3 Black Terns, Caspian Tern, 15 Yellow-headed Blackbird, 6 Sandhill Crane, Marsh Wren, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Swamp Sparrow and Lincoln's Sparrow were all nice birds to see.

Ignoring warnings of the Apocalypse, I headed out with the rangers and was soon watching Kirtlands singing from the top of the Jack Pines. The birds were always quite distant, but at one point two males chased each other around in a territorial dispute and one landed in a Jack Pine quite close to me allowing me to get some photos off. We saw about 10 birds in all plus Clay-coloured Sparrow.

After the tour I headed out into the some other areas around Mio. Ruffed Grouse and Broad-winged Hawk were seen to the south of Mio and to the north-east a pair of displaying Upland Sandpipers were just east of the junction of West Kneeland and North Galbraith Rds.

Sites near Magee Marsh 15 - 19 May 2011

There are plenty of other places to visit around Magee. If you want to increase the amount of species you see then it's a good idea to take a look at Kenn Kaufman's guide to the other birding areas. I visited Maumee Bay, Ottowa NWR, the Ottowa-Lucas road (for shorebirds) and a few other sites dotted around the Magee area.

Maumee Bay State Park is an excellent place to see gulls, Caspian Tern and migratory song birds. Head off to the last parking lot and check the beach and the large artificial lagoon for the first two. I had about 10 Caspian Terns plus about 100 American Herring Gulls and 50 Ring-billed Gulls. Head back the way you came and then go to the Nature Centre and take the boardwalk around the flooded woodland. Maumee is very good for thrushes. In one sweep across the forest floor I counted 16 Swainson's, 1 Veery and 1 Grey-cheeked Thrush plus I had more of all three at other places on the reserve.  The best bird I found there was a female Golden-winged Warbler near the Nature Centre and Eastern Wood-Peewee, Hairy Woodpecker, Indigo Bunting, Northern Waterthrush, a roosting Common Nighthawk and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Shorebirds are quite difficult to find. They're mainly in flooded fields, but there is a nice marsh at the end of the Ottowa-Lucas Road which has a good number of birds in it. About 350 Dunlin with smaller numbers of Semi-p Sands, Semi-p Plovers, Least Sand, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted and Solitary Sandpiper and Turnstones. The best birds there though were a pair of Stilt Sandpipers that dropped in and spent the afternoon feeding on the lagoon. Also, the junction of Couduroy and Yondota (south of Cedar Point NWR) there were a few hundred Dunlin, 30 Black-bellied Plover, 100+ Turnstone plus 20 Buff-bellied Pipit and Horned Lark.

The road that goes south opposite the entrance to Ottowa NWR has Boblinks at the end of it. Drive for about 2 miles, go over the railway line and there is a flowering field on the left about a quarter of a mile after (if you get to the stop sign, you've gone a little too far). There were about 10-15 birds displaying one evening.