After hitting up “Birds and Beers” last night at the Maumee Bay State Park Conference Center, and running on only a few hours of sleep from the previous night, I slept like a baby. I had dreams of warblers too close for focusing, and once again my birdy dreams came true on the Magee Marsh Boardwalk.
Cory and I got an early(ish) 7am start at the west end of the boardwalk. Birders were slowly trickling into the parking lot, and small groups were gathering near the previous days “hotspots.” We immediately staked out the location of the Mourning Warbler sighting from yesterday, but didn’t have luck finding it (one was seen later in the day after we left). While we strolled along, a male Bay-breasted Warbler perched over the crowd, announced his presence in song for about 20 seconds. A good way to start the day!
Further along, a House Wren was singing its head off, Downy Woodpeckers were copulating, and a handful of brightly colored male Blackburnian Warblers were wowing new (and seasoned) birders; it was hard to look anywhere without seeing some kind of activity. Blue-winged Warbler and Worm-eating Warbler were our new warbler species of the day, the latter of which was a huge crowd pleaser! Eastern Kingbird, Chimney Swift, Wood Thrush, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Golden-crowned Kinglet were just a few of the other new species for the day.
Oddly enough, there were no Prothonotary Warblers to be found, which was a big difference from last year…sad! Tennessee Warblers were also noticeably absent, which was odd, given that they were a very numerous species last year, heard singing just about everywhere. Cape May Warblers were nowhere to be found, and American Redstarts were also MIA. Veery was the most common thrush species, and we only ever saw one Swainson’s Thrush (no Gray-cheecked Thrush). Last year, all were present. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were also few in number. When I get more sleep I’ll compare our checklists from this year to last years checklist, and it will show that migration is a little more behind this year, in general with fewer species and fewer individuals of each species. Of the two days we spent on the boardwalk, the second day was less diverse in regards to warblers, despite our earlier arrival. On day 1, we spent 3 hours on the boardwalk in the late afternoon with 21 species of warblers, and on day 2, we spent 5 hours on the boardwalk in the morning with 18 species (not that 18 species of warblers is a bad day!).
Eventually I met up with digiscoper extraordinaire Jerry Jourdan, and we did a second loop around the boardwalk. Jerry brought with him great photo luck, as the sun warmed up the warblers and brought them right to us. Jerry may have some kind of warbler magnet in his hat because almost every individual bird we photographed was nearly too close for photos, with few exceptions. What a problem to have! We were also able to relocate the Worm-eating Warbler thanks to all the tweets, a true life “nemesis bird” for Jerry!
Cory and I departed the Biggest Week mid afternoon, but Drew will soon take our place. Meanwhile I keep hearing Yellow Warblers singing in my head, a side effect of spending two days at Magee Marsh!!! Stay tuned for lots more photos in the days to come!!!