The non-warblers at Magee and Ottawa NWR

We went up for one day to Magee Marsh during the warbler migration.  It is about a 2 hour drive for us so we really ought to be able to manage it most years.  Unfortunately May is usually a very busy month so it can be tough with the kids still at home.  But- Jonathan took the day off work and we went up.  We left around 6:30 in the morning and got back around 10:30 p.m.  It was a long day and also quite hot.  It was 89 or 90 degrees so fairly unpleasant.  We went through a lot of water!  We headed straight for the boardwalk at Magee and there were a few birds around.  I got quite a few lifers, some of which were not warblers.  One of the first birds that we saw was a Gray Catbird.  They were abundant all along the trail.  We have them at home, but I still enjoyed them.  They are always so handsome.

Gray Catbird

The Scarlet Tanager made quite a stir along the boardwalk:


and the Baltimore Orioles were also quite popular and fairly common.


The first non-warbler lifer for me was the Swainson’s Thrush.  They were also fairly common along the boardwalk.


There were two other non-warblers that were lifers for me, both of which we had glimpses of on the morning walk but got much better sightings when we came back in the evening. First is Lincoln’s sparrow.  These became much easier to find in the evening as they must have been more active.


And finally we got some good views of a Woodcock.  I have wanted to see one of these for quite a long time.  I love how strange they are shaped and their lovely camouflage plumage.  I was so happy to see one.  It took me a long time to find it, but the other birders were very patient with me until I could finally see it. 


You can see that he was hiding pretty well behind the greenery.  This was the best photo that we got.  Although he is kind of obscured, still you can make it his strange shape and long bill.
As I mentioned, we saw the sparrow and the woodcock much better when we went back to the boardwalk in the evening.  We left the boardwalk around noon for a picnic lunch and then decided to drive along the auto-route in Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge next door.  Since it was so hot, there was not much action even in the pools there, but nevertheless, we did see some nice birds.  Cedar Waxwings were a lovely addition to the day.  It seems that they were actually eating these flower petals.  Interesting!



We also saw several Eastern Kingbirds.  The best photos were from the Auto-tour.


After the Auto-tour Jonathan walked a wooded trail at Ottawa NWR while I tried to nap in the car.  There was little shade to be had but there was a bit in one parking lot.  I noticed several other birders taking a siesta as well.  The birds were mostly taking naps so it seemed like the logical solution.  After my nap, we grabbed an early dinner and then headed back to the boardwalk.

My next post will be of several of the  warblers that we saw along the boardwalk.  Of course, there are always a few that we didn’t manage to get photos of, so we still have a  great reason to go back next year.


More Ohio Water Birds: Early Spring 2015

After a brief stop at Sandy Ridge Nature Preserve in Elyria – See my last post –  We continued on to our destination which were the parks near Lake Erie, mainly Magee and Metzger parks.  At Magee we checked out all the ponds as we drove in where there were quite a lot of ducks and other water birds, including this sweet little Pied-billed Grebe which was another lifer for me.


We then stopped off in the parking lot, looked out at the lake and then walked the relatively long boardwalk.  It was a lovely day for a walk.  There were quite a few birds about, mostly Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles and a few other common ones.  The only lifer for me were the adorable Winter Wrens which were quite busy.


After the boardwalk we drove through Metzger Park and then in the morning we retraced our steps.  Some of the beautiful birds we found were:  Blue-winged Teal,



Sandhill Cranes,



and Trumpeter Swans.  I actually think that there were three species of swans at Metzger Park.  I believe these are Trumpeter and I can confirm Mute Swans from my photos.  I think there were also Tundra but can’t confirm it.


The next day we found this lovely Scaup.  Maybe someone can tell me if it is Lesser or Greater, but I must say that I have no idea.


We also got some wonderful looks at several Northern Pintails.



While watching the Pintails at Magee we got a very brief view of a this Northern Harrier hunting in the field behind the pond.  My last lifer of the trip, with ten altogether.


And finally, I will leave you with a photo of these two Northern Shovellers, which we saw plenty of on this trip.  I love their huge bills, and also wanted to mark on the blog the day that I found four of them near my house.  I was driving to work, around the middle of March, and found the little flock in a flooded field on Route 604.  Definitely an unusual sighting for me that day.  I do think it is pretty exciting to see the birds when I know for sure that they are on migration as those four undoubtedly were.