Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Magee Marsh to Grayling

Valerie and I recently went on the road to Ohio and Michigan to seek out a Kirtland’s Warbler in Grayling, Michigan and to witness the “Biggest Week in American Birding” at Magee Marsh.
Rather than driving non-stop to Port Clinton, OH, we decided to spend the first night in Erie, PA.
The next morning we birded Presque Isle State Park. This was a very nice and spacious park, and very birdy. We were both astounded by the number of Yellow Warblers at this park! We knew we had at least a few hundred and no doubt this figure was on the conservative side. At about mid-day we headed west to Port Clinton, this would be our base for the next few days.

The next morning we hit the boardwalk at Magee Marsh. The organizers of this 10 day festival bill this “The Biggest Week in American Birding” and they may be right.  The amount of birders visiting Magee Marsh was very impressive.. The birding at the Marsh was fabulous with many birds at or near eye level. We encountered 26  species of warblers at Magee, although we didn't get anything to unusual in the warbler department, we had wonderful looks at everything.  

The birding possibilities are not limited to Magee Marsh…..other areas we birded included Metzger Marsh, Ottawa N.W.R., Oak Openings near Toledo as well as the many farm fields around the region.  The amount of planning that goes on behind the scenes for the birding festival must be enormous, we were both very impressed.

From Magee Marsh we drove five hours north to Grayling, MI to hopefully encounter our main target bird for the trip “Kirtland’s Warbler” Thanks to James Smith for some excellent directions to an area he has birded several times…..we found a male Kirtland’s at about 7:55PM! .Certainly satisfied that we got our main bird, we were going back the next morning for more prolonged looks and to see what else we could add to our trip list. The area also held Clay-colored Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows, Nashville Warblers etc. We also hit Hartwick State Park, not a lot to see in late morning, but found Red-breasted Nuthatch and Evening Grosbeaks.

At about noontime we made our way towards Lake Huron for Tawas City. Seems Tawas City was also holding a 3 day birding festival. Tawas ended up beaning one of our favorite areas of the trip, and we’ll plan on at least two days in the area next time we go back. The state park has a Lighthouse that hooks out into the lake hauling in migrants as they head north. More of the same cast of characters as Magee Marsh, but even better looks and we wouldn’t have thought that would have been possible. We added our 28th specie of warbler for the trip (Orange-crowned) along with a few shorebird species, Olive-sided Flycatcher and just 30 minutes up the road was a late Snowy Owl.  

We made our way back to Magee Marsh for one last walk around the boardwalk before heading home the following day. All in all a very productive and fun trip…..we ended up with 180 species and 2,644 miles tacked onto my car. Below are a few photos from the trip……

Tennessee Warbler- Magee Marsh

Common Nighthawk- Ottawa NWR

Trumpeter Swan-Ottawa NWR.   The refuge and adjacent areas now host somewhere around 20 active nests. These endangered birds are not countable by listing standards,  but  were very cool to see flying around and even better to know their introduced population is doing well.  

Dunlin- Really good numbers and nice to see them acquiring breeding plumage. 

 This was kinda of strange! Herring Gulls building their nests in what appeared to be an abandon parking lot in downtown Port Clinton.

Clay-colored Sparrow-Grayling,MI

Orange-cr.Warbler-Tawas State Park. one of six.

Black-thr. Green Warbler

Mourning Warbler-Magee Marsh Boardwalk

White-faced Ibis- near Magee Marsh.

Pied-billed Grebe-Ottawa

Yellow Warbler-

Northern Parula- Tawas

Blue Jays coming off lake Huron-Tawas

American Redstart

Bay-breasted Warbler-Magee

Blackburnian Warbler

Scarlet Tanager-Magee

It was great to see Purple Martin colony's   

Purple Martin

American Woodcock-Magee

Yellow-rumped Warbler


Sandhill Crane-Ottawa

Cape May Warbler

Killdeer with young

Red-headed Woodpecker-Another bird that's become rare in New England, nice to see good numbers of them.

Kirtland's Warbler- Grayling