13 May 2009

Onto Ohio…(Crane Creek State Park, Ohio): 5 May 2009

Late last night we arrived and checked in to a trailer park for my next instalment of US guiding and birding – this time for the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Crane Creek State Park, Ohio. This has been touted as Ohio’s “dirty little secret”, the serious rival to Point Pelee north of the border, for number one migration hot spot in the northern US. I arrived with bated breath, looking forward to extending my migration season just that little bit further. As the warblers were in theory going to begin slowing down in the south in Texas, they are expected to ramp up to high octane levels here in Ohio, as it is only just entering the very best phase of spring birding migration there.

My first day checking out the delights of Magee Marsh Refuge was interesting in comparison to Texas. So far the scenery of the area is impressive, the trees stand upright (no hurricanes here of late), and extensive stands of Dogwood and other local trees proliferate in the area, unlike the island of limited habitat in High Island, the area seems to abound with wooded spots to lure in the migrant that we desire so much. Sure, a rather large nuclear power station looms on the horizon, but us birders like to nothing more than to bird right on the edge of some of the seemingly most unlikely spots for nature, that all too often prove to be the very best places for birds.

My first jaunt around the area produced three lifers – a Trumpeter Swan gliding gracefully over the marsh, a Rusty Blackbird hopping around a dark pool out the back of the boardwalk, and top of the pile were four or more American Woodcocks seen in display flights and walking around in the throws of courtship just a few feet away from me and I my spotlight which helped to provide me with an awesome birding experience. Aside from having a pair displaying to each other just a few feet away on one of the Black Swamp footpaths, one bird seemed to be attracted to my beam, on several occasions running excitedly toward the light and an excited me standing behind it, just a few feet from this “timberdoodle” as one local Ohio birder called it. Other birds today included dozens of American Robins-a bird that is pretty uncommon on the Upper Texas Coast in spring, Field, Lincoln’s, White-crowned & White-throated Sparrows, female Blackpoll Warbler, lots and lots of Yellow Warblers, a multitude of “Myrtle” Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a few Black-throated Greens, Warbling Vireos and one Yellow-throated Vireo. All on what I was told was a quiet day, although felt birdy enough for me anyhow.

Mammal lifers came in the form of a pair of Beavers cutting through a channel and many Muskrats.

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