Tag Archives: Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

“On The Road” Part-2

At just over 15,200 acres the five main wildlife areas and two state parks of northwest Ohio along Lake Erie, the birder has endless possibilities to search out and hopefully find that one elusive bird. Starting in the west with Maumee Bay State Park and ending in the east at East Harbor State Park, (which in itself has wonderful birding opportunities) we can’t forget Mallard Club Marsh Wildlife Area, Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge, Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa National Wildlife Area and finally Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. Except for Cedar Point N.W.R. all other are open to the public. And in the short time I was visiting I was able to do a little birding at all, even Cedar Point as Jon and myself stood on the border with the refuge as we walked the border line with Mallard Club Marsh.

IMG_2597A resident Trumpeter Swan at Ottawa NWR

IMG_2613Common Gallinule

For most of the year except a certain times Ottawa NWR can only be accessed either on foot or bicycle. And at 6,500 acres this is a sizable refuge to get around on foot, and my bike isn’t built to off-road on gravel roads. So you wait for when they open up the auto tour. This gives the birder a lot of flexibility to drive a little, park their car and do some birding as long as you don’t wander too far from your car. You could spent the whole day here, which I’ve done in the past.

The past few years when Kathy and I visited it was more of a leisurely birding trip. We’d go visit some sights and do things Kathy likes to do since she’s not really a bird watcher. She appreciates them, but not at the same level I’m at. So this trip since I’m all alone it gave me more freedom to travel far and fast, and bird from sun rise to sun set.

IMG_2630As you drive from one spot to another you have to remember that some of the best birding can be right along the road your traveling on. Large open fields can hold sky-pools that offer some really great shore bird habitat. This Least Sandpiper was found at such a place next to a Marina.

IMG_2734Sandhill Cranes have a very distinct call, and I fist heard them calling while on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh. It wasn’t till I was at Ottawa NWR on the last day I heard them overhead.


IMG_2735I can’t seem to get enough of Eastern Kingbirds. These 2 photos were taken while I was in my car driving through Ottawa. But sure as anything if I’d had gotten’ out of the car they would have flown off.

IMG_2725And we’ll end this short blog post with a token photo of a Great Egret, another bird that can easily be approached while in your car.

Birding in northwest Ohio during the Spring can be a phenomenal experience for the beginner or the experienced birder. Hotel and camping options are plentiful, with special rates for festival goers. Driving distance between all the parks and wildlife areas mentioned are manageable. From the cabins at Maumee Bay State Park to my hotel in Post Clinton, it was an hour drive. So you see it’s a relatively small area with a large amount of potential for birding.


” On The Road” Part 1

Everything I could possibly need was packed into the back of the bird-mobile. A rolling suitcase with all my necessary clothes and do-dads. Another rolling suitcase with all my optics, cables and connectors, and one field guide. A small cooler with enough peanut butter and apricot preserves to make 6 sandwiches, Fiber-One bars, and kettle cooked potato chips. My typical birding breakfast and lunch when you’re on the go. Tripod and a pillow, and that’s only because I hate hotel pillows.

So at exactly 2:25 last Friday, with my I-Pod on shuffle, I pulled out of work on my way for my annual pilgrimage to Lake Erie for some serious migration birding. I was tired, but stoked. It was a long week at work and the idea of driving for several hours wasn’t exactly what I really wanted to do. What I really wanted was to take a nap. But birds were calling and being a careful driver I put the cruise control on and pointed the car north. And in 3 1/2 hours exactly I was turning off Highway 2 into Magee Marsh, and the prospect of some great birding.

IMG_2575 Baltimore Orioles were plentiful

Birding predictions were pretty sketchy as to whether birding was going to be good, or great. As we all know the weather plays such an important part in bird migration, and as I walked onto the boardwalk Friday in the early evening it looked like it was going to be a great weekend.

IMG_2566 Blackpoll Warbler

And then it seemed the bottom fell out. There must have been movement overnight and the birding wasn’t as good as I’ve experienced in the past. I’m sure for the most part birders had to work pretty hard to check off birds for their trip list, and i was no exception. Don’t take me wrong, we had a fairly good variety of birds, just the sheer numbers were lower that I’ve seen in the past. That’s migration for you.

IMG_2494Magnolia Warbler.

I birded till about 7:30 and then made my way over to Port Clinton for a dinner of some fish tacos at the Jolly Roger Restaurant, and checked into my hotel for a good nights sleep, since 5:00 am comes way too early. I have to beat the morning crowd of birders and mega-photographers to the boardwalk, plus having a close parking spot pays off big time when and if it starts to rain, and your rain jacket is still in your car.

IMG_2500For the second year I scored on a Olive-sided Flycatcher

It was a 45 minute drive to the turn off into Magee Marsh and the sun was just starting to rise. I slowly crept over the causeway pausing  to listen for Rails and Bitterns. Except for the half dozen or more cars in the parking lot the boardwalk was just how I liked it……quiet!

It was the last full weekend for the Biggest Week In America Birding Festival, and it can get kind of noisy at times on the boardwalk, so getting there early can be a benefit when you’re birding by ear. Within 30 minutes the parking lot really starts to fill up, as does the boardwalk.

IMG_2658House Wrens were also plentiful as they chattered away.

Jon was already up at the lake, having arrived with some of his family and his wife Thursday evening. Once everyone got up and feed he was going to meet up with me that day. So I continued on working the boardwalk checking the tree tops and the ground, and everywhere in between for birds.

IMG_2682One of Magee Marsh’s famous ground foragers, a Swainson’s Thrush

As the morning wore on the sun started to warm the air, and then as I was standing with my bins in my hands I noticed 5 to 6 guys walking rather briskly towards the exit. For myself when I see behavior like this a red flag goes up. So I naturally followed them. Off the boardwalk and across the parking lot towards the estuary trail which takes you onto Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. From the chattering of info I was picking up as the group walked along was that a Connecticut Warbler was seen near the trail. Then for some unknown reason the group stopped. They were in a discussion and they all had a confused look on their faces. So I walked up and asked them if they were heading over to see the warbler. They were, but didn’t have a clue that the trail continued on towards the actual estuary where Lake Erie flows into and out of Ottawa and it’s marshes.

IMG_2533 Next to the Connecticut warbler for being the best “skulker” of the warbler world, the Mourning Warbler is a close second.

IMG_2541Then it finally showed itself.

So I helped them out by pointing them in the right direction, and off we went. The trail is actually the top of a dike that runs parallel to Lake Erie, with the marsh enclosure on one side and the lake on the other. And in between is some pretty thick undergrowth of mature trees and scrubby bushes with lots of leaf litter. Perfect for a Connecticut to hang out in. As we approached the far side of the trail then we saw all the people. Dozens upon dozens, all training their bins downward into the brush. And you know that bird is there, because it keeps singing every minute.

IMG_2665Always a great bird, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

I sent Jon a text and filled him in on what’s going on. It’s a lifer for him. A few people catch glimpses of the bird, then it goes back into hiding. The mass of people swell and then separate into smaller groups to cover more ground. Jon and I scoot 20 feet to the right by ourselves and scan the ground. Since we’re on a small dike we’re a few feet above the floor of the wooded section we’re scanning. A small pool of standing water about 10 feet in front of us. Jon first sees the bird foraging along the edge of the pool. He loses it as it moves away and vegetation gets in the way of our vision. I catch a quick glimpse and say “there it is”. People start to move in our direction as I sit down on the ground and Jon crouches low. Then the bird moves. Lands on a branch at eye level 8 feet in front of Jon and myself. And that quick it was gone.

IMG_2680A pretty reliable spot to find Ruddy Turnstones is on these metal breakwaters that run perpendicular to the shore.

IMG_2700Common Terns also shared the same perch as the Ruddy Turnstones.

It was a few hours later when I learned that Samantha, Jon’s wife, got a tip on a Yellow-headed Blackbird seen from the auto tour at Ottawa. Not wanting to appear rude or anxious, I said my good-byes and raced off to my car.



IMG_2594These are the addition pictures of my lifer Yellow-headed Blackbird. The other one was on my previous post.

I’m now going to run through the trip list and save my next post for when I went to Ottawa N.W.R. with more pictures.

Trip List

  1. Tree Swallow
  2. Chimney Swift
  3. Cliff Swallow
  4. Purple Martin
  5. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  6. Barn Swallow
  7. Common Grackle
  8. European Starling
  9. American Bittern
  10. Olive-sided Flycatcher
  11. Willow Flycatcher
  12. Great-creasted Flycatcher
  13. Eastern Kingbird
  14. Least Flycatcher
  15. Eastern Phoebe
  16. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  17. Mourning Warbler
  18. Yellow Warbler
  19. American Redstart
  20. Canada Warbler
  21. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  22. Black-throated Green Warbler
  23. Connecticut Warbler
  24. Wilson’s Warbler
  25. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  26. Commonn Yellowthroat
  27. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  28. Nashville Warbler
  29. Tennessee Warbler
  30. Magnolia Warbler
  31. Black and White Warbler
  32. Blackpoll Warbler
  33. Prothonotary Warbler
  34. Blackburnian Warbler
  35. Northern Waterthrush
  36. Northern Parula
  37. Bay-breasted Warbler
  38. Ovenbird
  39. Philadelphia Vireo
  40. Warbling Vireo
  41. Red-eyed Vireo
  42. Canada Goose
  43. Mallard
  44. Blue-winged Teal
  45. Wood Duck
  46. Baltimore Oriole
  47. Great Egret
  48. Great Blue Heron
  49. Green Heron
  50. Dunlin
  51. Short-billed Dowitcher
  52. Least Sandpiper
  53. Solitary Sandpiper
  54. Spotted Sandpiper
  55. Killdeer
  56. American Woodcock
  57. Ruddy Turnstone
  58. Bald Eagle
  59. Red-tailed Hawk
  60. American Kestrel
  61. Cooper’s Hawk
  62. Ring-billed Gull
  63. Herring Gull
  64. Common Tern
  65. Caspian Tern
  66. House Sparrow
  67. House Wren
  68. Marsh Wren
  69. Wood Thrush
  70. Swainson’s Thrush
  71. Gray-cheeked Thrush
  72. American Robin
  73. Veery
  74. Red-winged Blackbird
  75. Yellow-headed Blackbird
  76. American Crow
  77. Northern Cardinal
  78. Blue Jay
  79. Brown-headed Cowbird
  80. Mourning Dove
  81. Pigeon
  82. Gray Catbird
  83. Black-billed Cuckoo
  84. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  85. White-crowned Sparrow
  86. Lincoln Sparrow
  87. Song Sparrow
  88. Field Sparrow
  89. Common Nighthawk
  90. Common Gallinule
  91. Coot
  92. Sora
  93. Eastern Goldfinch
  94. Indigo Bunting
  95. Trumpeter Swan
  96. Pied-billed Grebe
  97. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  98. American Wigeon
  99. Turkey Vulture
  100. Double-creasted Cormorant
  101. Lesser Scaup
  102. Ruddy Duck
  103. Sandhill Crane
  104. Black-crowned Night Heron
  105. Hairy Woodpecker

New Lifer – #344

Never in a million years would I have thought I would be coming home with a new life bird. The weekend was tough as far as migrants were concerned. We really had to work for all the birds we sighted, or heard. But this bird is particularly sweet since it’s one of my nemesis birds.

For years now I’ve been going to the Magee Marsh, Ottawa N.W.R. and the Metzger Marsh areas, and I’ve had my share of chasing this particular bird. And Saturday after Jon picked up a life bird of his own, his wife Samantha tipped me off on a Yellow-headed Blackbird on the auto tour at Ottawa.

WOOOOOOOSH   I was off.

I found the spot without any issues. And after just a few minutes up popped the bird, being harassed by several Red-winged Blackbirds.

IMG_2595Now granted I’m not a sexist, but a male would have been sweet. I’m not complaining, I’ll take this lifer anyway I can.

“On The Road”

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

Yesterday started out like most late fall mornings, gray and overcast with a forecast of snow flurries throughout most of Ohio. However the weather wasn’t going to stop my last trip to the coast of Lake Erie with my best friend Phil do get in a little birding. But this wasn’t just any birding adventure, we had planned this trip around the last auto tour that the refuge was having for the year. And despite how many times I’ve driven or walked over these same gravel roads and trails, I always look forward with much anticipation my time there. And this time it was the latest in the year I’ve been there. On other occasions I’ve gone on the October one, but things came up and the November date was the one we settled on.

Phil and myself hit the road promptly at 7 o’clock am with a good 3 1/2 to 4 hour drive depending on how traffic was this quiet Sunday morning. Well it was a great drive up. We chatted, listened to my I-Pod and counted Red-tailed Hawks as they surveyed the open farm land of central Ohio. We made one pit stop before getting of at the exit just after Bowling Green Ohio, and started working our way East and North towards the lake. Now you’re really in farm country as you substitute big rigs on the interstate, with extra wide tractors as they move about the back roads. But in spite of the moving farm implements, it’s better to go this way then work my way through Toledo, even on a Sunday morning.

When we pulled into the visitors center for one last pit stop before we started the auto tour, it couldn’t help but notice the lack of people. Sure there were a few stalwart individuals like ourselves, but I really was expecting more than we actually saw.

IMG_1595This was pretty much how the day looked. A real blessing was that the wind was pretty quiet for being so close to the lake.

As we drove we couldn’t help but notice our way was blocked by this grounded murmuration of Starlings.

IMG_1597And as you crept closer they finally took off. Despite my disgust of these birds on a whole, I will admit that when they form into a huge bio-mass it is a sight to behold. Just as long as they don’t poop on the car.


As you visit Ottawa during the different seasons you can’t but notice the diversity of birds that come here all through the year. Granted Spring time is exciting what with all the migrating Warblers and other song birds, but Fall and Winter can be just as much fun as duck and other waterfowl fill all the unfrozen water.

IMG_1616Impoundments like this one held thousands of different waterfowl, from Gadwall. American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, to American Coots.


However one of the real treats were the Swans, particularly the Tundra Swans which were plentiful. It seemed where there was any open water there were Swans. Which is pretty fantastic since they are such a massive bird to begin with, and just so cool to watch.



As a bird watcher have you ever been out birding and wondered why you haven’t seen this particular bird? Could it be because we were driving we missed certain species? Absolutely. But one particular bird was missing from the whole day. Normally found this time of year feeding along the edges of a road, and scattering when you approach with a flash of white of their tails. Juncos! However there were plenty of Tree Sparrows to make up the difference as these 2 approachable fellas will tell you.


And anytime you visit up here remember to keep your head on a swivel and always try to look up every now and then. Bald Eagles were plentiful as usual, and a real treat was a hovering Rough-legged Hawk looking for dinner. A cruisin’ Merlin over the causeway going to Magee Marsh is always a good sighting. But until you experience the “chortle” of Sandhill Cranes as they come in to land, or as they pass overhead, you’ve missed a magical moment.

IMG_1602We didn’t see loads of Sandhills, but you don’t have to, to enjoy their beauty.

IMG_1624Tundra Swans on the wing. Poor photo. I really struggled with the camera today.

As we finished up the auto tour, and before we headed off to port Clinton for a bite to eat, we made our way over to Magee Marsh for a quick stroll around. As we pulled into a near empty parking lot I can’t help but look back at the time i was here in the Spring time when parking was at a premium, and the boardwalk was, pardon my vulgarity, “nut-to-butt”. Then as we walked out there yesterday afternoon we’re greeted with emptiness.

IMG_1627On any other day in the Spring this section will be a mass of humanity, now the only thing that was moving was a lone Downy Woodpecker. It seemed that the whole boardwalk was sleeping. Waiting for the arrival of warmer weather and migration.

As we drove out of the park we pulled over to scan this lake Phil had seen something on. As he looked in one direction, I looked the other and found a nice flock of Rusty Blackbirds, my new favorite bird. As they change into their non-breeding plumage, they take on this nice brown coloration that is almost nicer than their breeding colors.

IMG_1628I really tried to get a little closer so I wouldn’t have to use my digital zoom for a better quality picture, but they were a skittish bird and not easily approachable.


So we left Magee Marsh behind and made our way to Port Clinton to one of our favorite fish restaurants, the Jolly Roger and some incredible Perch (the Perch Tacos were great) right from Lake Erie.

It was during our return trip back home when the weather turned ugly in a big way. Construction, coupled with too much traffic, with a heaping amount of snow, made for some interesting driving. Now there’s a kind of stress I can do without, especially when I have to go to work the next day. But we made it back safe and sound with a pretty nice list for the day.

  1. Bald Eagle
  2. Rough-legged Hawk
  3. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  4. Cooper’s Hawk
  5. Red-tailed Hawk
  6. Merlin
  7. American Kestrel (probable)
  8. Northern Harrier
  9. Pigeon
  10. Mourning Dove
  11. European Starling
  12. Northern Cardinal
  13. White-throated Sparrow
  14. Fox Sparrow
  15. American Tree Sparrow
  16. House Sparrow
  17. Red-winged Blackbird
  18. Common Grackle
  19. Rusty Blackbird
  20. Sandhill Crane
  21. Tundra Swan
  22. Great Blue Heron
  23. Mallard
  24. American Coot
  25. Gadwall
  26. American Wigeon
  27. Northern Pintail
  28. Bufflehead
  29. Northern Shoveler
  30. Ruddy Duck
  31. Canada Goose
  32. Cackling Goose
  33. Common Crow
  34. Ring-billed Gull
  35. Herring Gull
  36. Bonaparte’s Gull
  37. American Goldfinch
  38. Blue Jay
  39. Northern Flicker
  40. Downy Woodpecker
  41. Red-bellied Woodpecker

“On The Road” (Summary)

Magee Marsh, Ottawa N.W.R.Metzger Marsh, Maumee Bay State Park

Since our return from our annual trip to the Lake Erie hot spots for migrating birds I’ve been nothing but busy, busy, busy. With just a few days before I return back to work the list of chores and appointments was pretty long. And with that comes the delay with getting any post for my blog out to you.

The trip was epic! The birds were abundant! The boardwalk was busy at times but I’ve seen it worse in years past. The lodge at Maumee Bay State Park was everything and more. The room was nice with a great view of the lake, which cost extra but worth it. We only ate in the restaurant twice, but it to was nice. And yes plans are in place for a return visit during this same time next year, but maybe rent a cabin and invite the kids to stay during the weekend if they want.

We arrived on Saturday morning, and left Wednesday morning after one more walk on the boardwalk. And since Kathy isn’t a birder, yet, there were plenty of things to do while we were there. Like I told here if I was here by myself I would be birding non-stop for most of the day. However this time we both ventured out and went out to eat in Port Clinton and Marble Head. We also visited the Lighthouse at Marble Head one afternoon.


So we broke up this trip with some touristy things and some birding things. We were lucky to have been up there on the weekend when the auto tour was open at Ottawa N.W.R. It’s one great way to really measure how immense this place really is. It was during the auto tour that I was finally able to get a poor photo of a Bald Eagle sitting still.


Overall it was a great trip. Total species count was 137, with 30 Warbler species. That is the most Warbler I’ve counted since I started going up there.

IMG_3770Eastern Wood Pewee

IMG_3776A very cooperative Scarlet Tanager. Too bad I couldn’t get a decent focus on it.

IMG_3779Palm Warbler at the East Beach. They were everywhere at this location.

IMG_3778The state used caution tape to create a barrier around this nesting American Woodcock that the grassy area between the parking lots was the best location to hatch her chicks.

IMG_3801As I came off the causeway into the parking area at Magee Marsh I noticed this small Egret feeding at that corner where you turn left. A Snowy Egret.

IMG_2592Snowy Egret

At times during our visit the boardwalks were this deserted. Here I am standing in one spot and shooting a picture in both directions.

IMG_3815 IMG_3814

IMG_3803Black & White Warbler

IMG_3817Chestnut-sided Warbler

IMG_3823A very vocal House Wren

IMG_3828Northern Waterthrush

IMG_2602Trumpeter Swans

IMG_3845A Veery along the path was you approach the Estuary Trail

IMG_3866Prothonotary Warbler as it emerged out of it’s nesting cavity.

IMG_3863And I always try to make it at sunrise along the causeway for great pictures like this.

IMG_3867And the best way to sum up why I do what I do.

Notable birds:

  1. Bald Eagle
  2. Osprey
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. American Kestrel
  5. Turkey Vulture
  6. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  7. Sandhill Crane
  8. Great Horned Owl
  9. Song Sparrow
  10. White-crowned Sparrow
  11. White-throated Sparrow
  12. House Sparrow
  13. Swamp Sparrow
  14. Chipping Sparrow
  15. Clay-colored Sparrow
  16. Lincoln Sparrow
  17. Great-creasted Flycatcher
  18. Least Flycatcher
  19. Eastern Phoebe
  20. Eastern Wood Pewee
  21. Olive-sided Flycatcher
  22. Willow Flycatcher
  23. Eastern Kingbird
  24. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  25. Acadian Flycatcher
  26. Blackburnian Warbler
  27. Blackpoll Warbler
  28. Black & White Warbler
  29. Magnolia Warbler
  30. Cape May Warbler
  31. Yellow Warbler
  32. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  33. Black-throated Green Warbler
  34. Yellow-throated Warbler
  35. Kirtland Warbler
  36. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  37. Hooded warbler
  38. Northern Parula
  39. Ovenbird
  40. Louisiana Waterthrush
  41. Northern Waterthrush
  42. Blue-winged Warbler
  43. Prothonotary Warbler
  44. Palm Warbler
  45. Wilson’s Warbler
  46. American Redstart
  47. Canada warbler
  48. Tennessee Warbler
  49. Nashville Warbler
  50. Bay-breasted Warbler
  51. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  52. Pine Warbler
  53. Mourning Warbler
  54. Orange-crowned Warbler
  55. Common Yellowthroat
  56. Mallard
  57. Blue-winged Teal
  58. Lesser Scaup
  59. Canada Geese
  60. Wood Duck
  61. Pied-billed Grebe
  62. Trumpeter Swan
  63. Mute Swan
  64. Double-creasted Cormorant
  65. White Pelican
  66. Herring Gull
  67. Ring-billed Gull
  68. Common Tern
  69. American Woodcock
  70. Killdeer
  71. Semipalmated Plover
  72. Black-bellied Plover
  73. Ruddy Turnstone
  74. Willet
  75. Semipalmated sandpiper
  76. Least sandpiper
  77. Dunlin
  78. Great Egret
  79. Snowy Egret
  80. Green Heron
  81. Great Blue Heron
  82. Hooded Merganser
  83. American Coot
  84. Common Gallinule
  85. Sora
  86. American Bittern
  87. Lesser Yellowleg
  88. Pectoral Sandpiper
  89. Spotted Sandpiper
  90. Warbling Vireo
  91. Red-eyed Vireo
  92. Philadephia Vireo
  93. Blue-headed Vireo
  94. White-breasted Nuthatch
  95. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  96. American Robin
  97. Northern Cardinal
  98. Blue Jay
  99. Scarlet Tanager
  100. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  101. Common Grackle
  102. Red-winged Black Bird
  103. Common Crow
  104. Black-capped Chickadee
  105. House Wren
  106. Marsh Wren
  107. Carolina Wren
  108. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  109. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  110. Gray Catbird
  111. Baltimore Oriole
  112. Northern Mockingbird
  113. Brown-headed Cowbird
  114. Swainson’s Thrush
  115. Hermit Thrush
  116. Gray-cheeked Thrush
  117. Wood Thrush
  118. Veery
  119. Downy Woodpecker
  120. Hairy Woodpecker
  121. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  122. Northern Flicker
  123. Tree Swallow
  124. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  125. Purple Martin
  126. Bank Swallow
  127. Barn Swallow
  128. Chimney Swift
  129. Cliff Swallow
  130. Mourning Dove
  131. Eastern Meadowlark
  132. American Goldfinch
  133. Brown Thrasher
  134. Eastern towhee
  135. Belted Kingfisher
  136. Pine Siskin
  137. European Starling

“On The Road” (Summation)

Magee Marsh/ Metzger Marsh/ Ottawa N.W.R.

As I sit here gathering my thoughts on how I can best sum up this birding trip you realize that it’s not just about the birds, it’s the people you meet along the way that can make a good trip into a great birding trip. Meeting Rick and Allan while I was there was a treat, however having some of the Amish youth speak to you was a surprise. This close knit group are great birders and can be seen all along the boardwalk as a family. Then there was Sally and her mother who I meet at Metzger Marsh where we birded for a couple of hours and then meet up again the next morning at the boardwalk. This common bond we have is the catalyst that starts new friendships that can last a long time. I love this aspect of birding. Birders love nothing more than to talk about birds with other birders.

Except for a brief thundershower in the morning on my last day, the weather was nothing but beautiful. The crowds were smaller than what you’d expect to see when the festival was going on. Getting a parking spot close to the East end entrance to the boardwalk was never a problem in case you had to run back to your car for anything. This played out on a couple of occasions when I would leave the boardwalk and walk a few hundreds yards to the Estuary Trail. I’d pick up my spotting scope on the way since you’ll need it as you look out over the estuary.

Birders along the Estuary Trail, with Lake Erie on their right.

2 views overlooking the estuary at Ottawa NWR

The channel of water in the fore ground links directly to Lake Erie. The water is pretty shallow here because as you looked out over the water you could see the backs of Carp break the surface.

The birds were great as usual and timing and weather can determine what you see. Also with the warmer than average Spring the ground cover was thick which hide birds that you would normally see. Thrushes which will forage on the ground were difficult to pick up. One of the surprise birds that I wasn’t able to find were the Ovenbird. A Warbler species that I’ve seen regularly in years past, not this time though.

Yellow Warbler was the dominate species here. They are everywhere you go, either on the boardwalk or at Ottawa or Metzger. Become familiar with it’s call or it will drive you crazy as you try to ID a Warbler you hear only to find out that it’s another Yellow Warbler.

If you visit here and not see any Yellow Warblers, then something is seriously wrong either with you or Mother Nature.

Prothonotary Warblers are friendly, aggressive, and easily photographed. Besides being a beauty to behold, they have no fear when it comes to us upright walking humanoids.

Most of all the other Warbler species were difficult to photograph since they were feeding mostly in the tops of the trees. Even the photographers with their big rigs were having a problem getting onto the bird and squeezing of a shot. If the bird wasn’t out in the open, they were out of luck.

On the last day we had a proliferation of Cape May Warblers near the observation deck near the East end of the boardwalk. My favorite and most beautiful Warbler species, wouldn’t you agree?

Black Poll Warbler

Female Baltimore Oriole

This male Baltimore Oriole was as close I you’d normally see while here. These tree top dwellers were always heard, or seen as a orange flash before landing into the thickest portion of the tree. A striking bird.

I always make a trip to Ottawa NWR since it’s a fabulous place to bird, and being right next door to Magee it would be foolish not to go. While having lunch you can watch the Purple Martins as they put on their aerial display.

Another one of my favorites, a Canada warbler showing off it’s trademark black necklace.

The omnipresent American Redstart

Remember this area just isn’t a jumping off point for bird migration. Nesting birds are very common throughout all the parks and preserves along the lake, like this American Robin.

Black-throated Blue warbler

As with all trips they must come to and end, and preparations need to be made for next year. As I reflect on this trip I would have to give it an A+, even though my original plans was to be there for another day. Well there’s always next year. So now here’s the list of all the bird species seen with 24 species of  the Warblers.

  1. Rock Pigeon
  2. American Robin
  3. European Starling
  4. House Finch
  5. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  6. American Finch
  7. Northern Cardinal
  8. Common Grackle
  9. Red-winged Blackbird
  10. Killdeer
  11. Semipalmated Plover
  12. Black-bellied Plover
  13. Veery
  14. Swainson’s Thrush
  15. Gray-cheeked Thrush
  16. Hermit Thrush
  17. Eastern Kingbird
  18. Eastern Phoebe
  19. Eastern Wood Pewee
  20. Least Flycatcher
  21. Willow Flycatcher
  22. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  23. Tree Swallow
  24. Barn Swallow
  25. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  26. Purple Martin
  27. Lincoln Sparrow
  28. Song Sparrow
  29. Field Sparrow
  30. Chipping Sparrow
  31. Indigo Bunting
  32. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  33. Mourning Dove
  34. Canada Goose
  35. Mallard
  36. Red-breasted Merganser
  37. Wood Duck
  38. Ruddy Duck
  39. Least Sandpiper
  40. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  41. Upland Sandpiper
  42. Ruddy Turnstone
  43. Dunlin
  44. Great Egret
  45. Snowy Egret
  46. Black-crowned Night Heron
  47. Green heron
  48. Great Blue Heron
  49. Short-billed Dowitcher
  50. Lesser Yellowleg
  51. American Coot
  52. Common Gallinule
  53. Herring Gull
  54. Ring-billed Gull
  55. Forester’s Tern
  56. Common Tern
  57. Black Tern
  58. Double-creasted Cormorant
  59. American White Pelican
  60. Pied-billed Grebe
  61. Trumpeter Swan
  62. Sandhill Crane
  63. Bald Eagle
  64. Red-tailed Hawk
  65. Turkey Vulture
  66. Eastern Screech Owl
  67. Great Horned Owl
  68. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  69. Downy Woodpecker
  70. Northern Flicker
  71. Blue Jay
  72. American Woodcock
  73. Scarlet Tanager
  74. Baltimore Oriole
  75. Orchard Oriole
  76. House Wren
  77. Marsh Wren
  78. Blue-headed Vireo
  79. Red-eyed Vireo
  80. Philadelphia Vireo
  81. Warbling Vireo
  82. White-eyed Vireo
  83. Black-capped Chickadee
  84. White-breasted Nuthatch
  85. Eastern Meadowlark
  86. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  87. Black-billed Cuckoo
  88. Gray Catbird
  89. Yellow Warbler
  90. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  91. Nashville Warbler
  92. Tennessee Warbler
  93. Northern Parula
  94. Magnolia Warbler
  95. Wilson’s Warbler
  96. Canada Warbler
  97. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  98. Black-throated Green Warbler
  99. Cape May Warbler
  100. American Redstart
  101. Prairie Warbler
  102. Black Poll Warbler
  103. Prothonotary Warbler
  104. Bay-breasted Warbler
  105. Blackburnian Warbler
  106. Yellow-breasted Chat
  107. Black and White Warbler
  108. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  109. Yellow-throated Warbler
  110. Mourning Warbler
  111. Connecticut Warbler
  112. Common Yellowthroat