Monthly Archives: May 2011

” On The Road “

This road trip was definitely an emotional roller coaster ride for me. Hitting the road at 4am and making real good time, with hopes of reaching the boardwalk at 7:30, only to be shocked into despair  by the loss of my cell phone. Then lifted back up by the thrill of just being up in this wonderful birding area for only a couple of days. And scoring on a lifer of a lifetime.

Of all the places I birded for these past few days, I enjoyed them all equally.

This is where it’s happening! As soon as you make that left hand turn into the drive, your greeted by this sign. The sponsor of the birding festival.

As you drive past the headquarters for Black Swamp Bird Observatory, you come upon the main building for Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. This is called the Sportsman Migratory Bird Center. One thing to remember is that the Observatory is a private organization, where Magee Marsh is run by the state of Ohio. Here is their headquarters.

Around the headquarters there’s plenty to do. The headquarters itself has a gift shop, museum, and displays and exhibits concerning nothing else but birds. Now how cool is that. They have a real nice trail which winds it’s way around the headquarters area.

However the walking path was closed about half way. It seems a Bald Eagle has taken up housekeeping on the back side of the property. I was able to get some poor quality pictures of the nest with one adult Eagle.

If you click on the picture, the image will enlarge.

The place to be though during migration is the boardwalk. However to get there you need to traverse the causeway which bisects the marsh from the beach area.

Sorry for the poor quality picture, but you get the idea.

Rising at 5 am everyday to get a jump on the day, I’d be greeted by sunrises like this as I crossed the causeway towards the boardwalk.

As you exited off the causeway you’d make a left into the grand parking lot. This lot is enormous. Even though it never was completely full while I was there, it would take you some time to find a good spot if you got there even a little late. My plan was to get up at 5, shower, eat, and drive there, and arrive no later than 6:30. It was roughly 18 miles to get to the turn off at Magee Marsh.

The parking lot runs parallel to the beach and the boardwalk. There is an East and West entrance to the boardwalk accessible at either end of the parking lot. So if you plan on walking the whole trail, parking towards the center of the parking lot will save you some steps in the long run. For myself, I parked towards the West entrance, since that’s where all the action is. Walking the entire boardwalk took some time. And if it was real crowded, it took longer.

However other times, especially towards the East end, the boardwalk would be practically empty, like the evening I spotted the Kirtlands Warbler.

Birds were plentiful on the boardwalk, especially Warblers. There were times that you could almost reach out and touch them. As much as I tried to get some pictures, I had to delete most of them because it was so difficult to get good pictures with the camera I have. And since Warblers move all the time, getting them into focus was quite a challenge.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Bay-breasted warbler

American Redstart

American Redstart (female)


Another refuge close by was Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

This place was awesome as well, with good trail’s and a headquarters building with a gift shop, and information desk. I visited there twice and on one occasion I was able to digiscope some decent pictures of some birds that would hold still long enough.

The most common bird up there, Red-winged Blackbird.

Tree Swallow

Purple Martin

Great Egret

Eastern Kingbird

The refuge is enormous, at over 9,000 acres it would take you over a week to cover this place on foot. I never made it to the Lake Erie from the parking lot, which was one of my goals.

On my second trip I walked it’s own boardwalk and  wooded lot that was close to the headquarters building. Level terrain with good birds throughout.

The boardwalk was wide, hence no need for hand rails.

After a short walk the boardwalk dives into the woods, where it becomes a nice level hiking trail, with beautiful scenery.

With all the rain they’ve received lately, the landscape was green and lush. Since they are in a later growing zone than us in Southern Ohio, plants and flowers were just beginning to burst.

One thing to remember is that area was once called Black Swamp. It covered most of what is North West Ohio, and seeing this water covered forest floor, the name is applicable.

Always try to look up every now and then. You might see a Bald Eagle.

Came upon a group of birders trying to locate a Golden-winged Warbler. Tough little bird to find.

 Here’s my sad attempt at getting it’s picture.

As the trail wound through the woods I thought I would take some artsy pictures of some of the vegetation growing on the forest floor.

One evening I ventured over to Maumee Bay State Park to see if there were any good birds on the beach.

David and I stayed in the camp ground on our visit last year, and with such a beautiful facility a perfect place to stay when I go up again. The park has it’s own extensive trail system with good birding for all ages. I can remember the last time I was there, David and I were tearing down camp while a strom was blowing in off the lake. While we ate breakfast in the resort dining room, the rain was blowing horizontal across the dining rooms huge windows. We were debating whether to go birding or not. We did.

Even with losing my cell phone in the beginning, this trip was too much fun. I took a lot more pictures than what I’ve shown on this post, most of the bird picture will be added to my photostream on my Flickr account. So don’t forget to check it out later.

All told after 4 hard days of birding I came away with 116 different species of birds. That may seem like a lot, but I know I could do better. I had opportunities to see birds that slipped away just that fast. These are the things that keep me coming back for more day in and day out. I did top my total species list from last year, and next year I’ll try to do better. I may have to change up the dates to try and catch some of those elusive types.

So here is my trip list.

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mute Swan
  3. Trumpeter Swan
  4. Wood Duck
  5. American Black Duck
  6. Mallard
  7. Ruddy Duck
  8. Pied-billed Grebe
  9. Double-crested Cormorant
  10. Great Blue Heron
  11. Great Egret
  12. Green Heron
  13. Black-crowned Night Heron
  14. Turkey Vulture
  15. Bald Eagle
  16. Northern Harrier
  17. Red-tailed Hawk
  18. American Kestrel
  19. Spotted Sandpiper
  20. Common Moorhen
  21. American Coot
  22. Killdeer
  23. Least Sandpiper
  24. Dunlin
  25. American Woodcock
  26. Ring-billed Gull
  27. Herring Gull
  28. Common Tern
  29. Mourning Dove
  30. Black-billed Cuckoo
  31. Eastern Screech Owl
  32. Whip-poor-will
  33. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  34. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  35. Downy Woodpecker
  36. Northern Flicker
  37. Eastern Wood Pewee
  38. Least Flycatcher
  39. Eastern Phoebe
  40. Great-crested Flycatcher
  41. Eastern Kingbird
  42. Yellow-throated Vireo
  43. Blue-headed Vireo
  44. Warbling Vireo
  45. Philadelphia Vireo
  46. Red-eyed Vireo
  47. Blue Jay
  48. Purple Martin
  49. Tree Swallow
  50. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  51. Bank Swallow
  52. Barn Swallow
  53. Black-capped Chickadee
  54. Tufted Titmouse
  55. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  56. White-breasted Nuthatch
  57. House Wren
  58. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  59. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  60. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  61. Veery
  62. Swainson’s Thrush
  63. Wood Thrush
  64. American Robin
  65. Gray Catbird
  66. Golden-winged Warbler
  67. Tennessee Warbler
  68. Orange-crowned Warbler
  69. Nashville Warbler
  70. Northern Parula
  71. Yellow Warbler
  72. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  73. Magnolia Warbler
  74. Cape May Warbler
  75. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  76. Black-throated Green Warbler
  77. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  78. Blackburnian Warbler
  79. Yellow-throated Warbler
  80. Pine Warbler
  81. Kirtland’s Warbler
  82. Prairie Warbler
  83. Palm Warbler
  84. Bay-breasted Warbler
  85. Blackpoll Warbler
  86. Black and White Warbler
  87. American Redstart
  88. Prothonotary Warbler
  89. Ovenbird
  90. Northern Waterthrush
  91. Mourning Warbler
  92. Common Yellowthroat
  93. Hooded Warbler
  94. Wilson’s Warbler
  95. Canada Warbler
  96. Scarlet Tanager
  97. Eastern Towhee
  98. Chipping Sparrow
  99. Song Sparrow
  100. Lincoln’s Sparrow
  101. White-throated Sparrow
  102. White-crowned Sparrow
  103. Dark-eyed Junco
  104. Northern Cardinal
  105. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  106. Indigo Bunting
  107. Red-winged Blackbird
  108. Common Grackle
  109. Brown-headed Cowbird
  110. Orchard Oriole
  111. Baltimore Oriole
  112. House Finch
  113. American Goldfinch
  114. House Sparrow
  115. Starling
  116. American Pipit

Notes From The Field

Well it was another very busy day up here on Lake Erie. With the sun shining and the warmer weather certainly has brought out the birders in full force. The boardwalk at Magee Marsh were at time impossible to move on It was either the birders or the professional photographers with their big rig cameras that get in everyones way. That’s why I get up early and try to get there at a decent time  before the crowds start showing up. The big highlight for me yesterday was spotting not once, but twice of Golden-winged Warblers. Once at the boardwalk and the other time over at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Total bird species for the day was 80. Not as good as yesterday, but with the prediction of another big push today or tomorrow numbers my go up. So the  next wave hopefully will be today since I’m leaving later on today.

Now onto a happier note. If you’re a loyal reader to this blog you will have known by now that on my drive up here I lost my cell phone. Which put me in a bad funk. Well you won’t believe it, but a man picked it up while he was on his way to Lake Erie for a fishing trip. He looked in the phone and found my information page and called home and talked to Kathy. The man lives in Middletown so she is picking it up today. For me this restores my faith in the human race.

Kirtlands Warbler

That’s right. You read that correctly. Myself and a couple of other birders were the lucky ones to see a Kirtlands Warbler today. One of the rarest of the warbler species. Of course this was seen towards the Eastern portion of the boardwalk. All the action happens at the other end of the boardwalk, however with the day wearing on a lot of people were gone for the evening. The people who confirmed this sighting have both seen Kirtlands Warblers before. The gentleman who confirmed it was in Columbus to view the now famous Kirtlands sighting just last week. We both were looking  at it at the same time, when we both said that it looks like a Kirtlands. An older lady came down with a friend and she said that yes it was the real deal.

Now that’s how you make a birder happy. A really, really,really good lifer. Other than this exciting news, it was a good day birding. Total number of different species today is 90

Notes From The Field

Well this trip to Northeastern Ohio certainly started out with high anxiety and excitement. Leaving at 4:05 am I made real good time through Dayton and point beyond. Pulling into a rest stop just South of Bowling Green is when my day went down the crapper. I have a habit of taking my cell phone off my belt to use the facility. This is done so my phone doesn’t accidentally hit those disgusting floors. I didn’t bring phone sanitizer for this trip. I placed it right next to me on the toilet paper dispenser. And yes, that’s where I left it till I remembered it just as I was getting off the highway in Toledo.

Now someone like myself would either turn it in at the desk that was at the rest stop or just leave it. No, some person picked it up, and my mood turned ever downward. Making frantic phone calls from a pay phone I was able to enlist the help from Kathy and David to stop service and re-set certain passwords. I really don’t want to go into too many details.

My next step was waiting for an hour and a half at the Bowling Green Verizon store to be raped for a new phone. Since we just up-graded, we’re not eligible for the cheaper rate. Hence the rapping of Les Houser for his new phone. They had me by the short hairs, and gave them a twist. So now I have a new phone, but my collection of phone numbers are now gone.

Life goes on.

By the time I reached Magee Marsh it was getting onto 11:30 am. I birded heavy there, then went to the beach trail after lunch. Afterwards went to the trail that is outside of Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Then I drove over to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge to see if there were any wading birds. However they’ve had the problems we’ve had in the Southern part of the state. Too much rain. All the estuaries that I walked by were full of water and no mud flats for wading birds. After walking several miles here I made my way back to my car to head over to my hotel.

Total bird count for the day is 72. I expect more tomorrow.

“Gone Birding”

Just a reminder to all my loyal readers that starting Monday morning, till late Thursday evening I’ll be basking in the glory of Spring migration. My itinerary will include Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area. Not knowing if the hotel I’m staying in has a public computer, there may or may not be any reports coming from me for some time. So be patient and with me and wish me best trip ever, with plenty of birds.

A Birder’s Haiku

Dedicated to the birder, as we start our week.

Night thunder

a frog croaks

a bird replies