16 May 2009

Battle of the Bobolinks…(Mallard Club/Oak Harbor, Ohio): 15 May 2009

A welcome break from pounding the boardwalk and a shift in guiding today involved a half day trip out to some areas just outside Magee Marsh with a group of members of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. A fun group and really fun representative from the observatory staff (the ultra-enthusiastic Chris Knoll) led to a great mornings birding in some marshes and prairie outside Magee. The fanatical group of birders and the top brass birds that gave us top notch looks led to a much delayed arrival time back at the observatory at the trip end, and late lunches all round. No one complained though as we chalked up some stunning looks at sparrows in full song, (Field, Song, Savanna, and Swamp Sparrows at Mallard Club marsh, and a tardy Grasshopper Sparrow that turned up at the last minute near Oak Harbor), as well as some other marvellous marsh birds including displaying Marsh Wrens at Mallard, and a bumper crop of Common Yellowthroats standing guard from the reeds there too.

Top sighting of the morning though involved a few pairs of duelling Bobolinks doing battle in a remnant patch of prairie near Oak Harbor. The males puffed out their golden napes, sung vociferously from atop the low grass stems, and when that did not seem to work did battle in mid-air with each other. A great birding experience, that got us all as pumped and psyched as the birds were themselves!

We ended the day in Port Clinton listening to the “rock-and-roll birding celebrity”, Kenn Kaufman (he performs regularly in a rock band, with his wife Kim on vocals, to raise money for the young birders of Ohio), giving a great talk on the phenomenon of bird migration in the US. This stunning spectacle of migrants on the move has got me addicted after just two seasons in High Island on the Upper Texas Coast, and during this first spell on the lakeshore of Erie in Ohio. Every birder needs to see it at least once (although it is hard not to come back, I have not managed this yet).

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