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:

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

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

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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

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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.

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