15 May 2013

K-K-K-K-Kirtland's!...OHIO (14 May)

I went out with Scott Watson with one clear objective in mind: find a Kirtland's Warbler. With weather favouring an arrival of birds, and the date being within the peak period of previous Kirtland's records in this area of Ohio, I was adamant the next few days would see one found at Magee/Ottawa NWR. So we began with a chilly walk around the South Woods behind Ottawa NWR, where small flurries of warblers brought us hope for the day to come. Small groups included Tennessee, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, and American Redstart. A Tufted Titmouse there was also the only one I have seen this year, due to limited birding in the US away from migrant traps. We moved on to Magee Marsh, where we ummed and ahhed over where we should try and find a Kirtland's Warbler: the classic spot, East Beach, or where an obliging bird performed for all last year, along the new Magee/Ottawa Crane Creek Estuary Trail?  

We chose the Estuary Trail, which was good again, as it has been all spring, proving to be a great addition to the Magee set up, and a great overflow area, when the boardwalk becomes jammed with birders. Cape Mays were prominent along the trail, but sadly, the Piping Plover which was present yesterday had moved on. I also managed to find an Orange-crowned Warbler hiding within the mix of migrants, and enjoyed a pair of grounded Sandhill Cranes, and a passing Northern Harrier. A muddy area also held a nice mix of shorebirds: Least, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers

Then, just when I was at the furthest point from East Beach, I got a call from Rebecca Hinkle informing me that a Kirtland's Warbler had been found on East Beach; and the rest is history! The bird stayed all day long, giving typically tame views, thrilling many hundreds of people through the day. I returned late afternoon/evening and enjoyed the bird in great light, with just a few people, which was when these photos were taken.

It was a great day all round with good warbler diversity (Canada, Wilson's and Northern Parula added to a list of some 22 species for me for the day, while Scott recorded 28 species out of more than 30 species available!) One of the undoubted highlights was seeing a Blackburnian Warbler sitting on the hand rail along the Magee boardwalk, and getting my first-of-season Philadelphia Vireo, which was stupidly tame like so many birds at Magee. 

Tomorrow is predicted to be even better, and with an afternoon flight taking me away from spring migration for another year, I am set to be out early and make the most of one more final spring fling...

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