Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another Audubon's Warbler!

Karl Overman and I headed down to Ohio yesterday hoping to see some spring migrants and were not disappointed. Along state route 2 we saw hundreds of Broad-winged Hawks flying over along with the occasional Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, or Turkey Vulture mixed in. After trying unsuccessfully for the Black-necked Stilt we headed to Metzger to try for the Tricolored Heron. It was right where it had been previously reported, running around in the marsh. The Tricolored Heron was lifer #359 for me.
Down by Lake erie there were lots of Bonaparte's Gulls along with Caspian and Forster's Terns.

The trees were full of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Yellow-rumped Warblers and Karl spotted a Yellow-throated Warbler.

After Metzger We headed over through Ottawa to get to Magee Marsh. Along a back road we were happy to find an adult male Cape May Warbler along with Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers in a tree in front of a house. The Magee boardwalk was overrun with Myrtle Warblers, we estimated there were about 200. A Blue-winged Warbler was nice to see and provided a photo opportunity.
Along with about ten species of warblers we also saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, several Brown Creepers, lots of Hermit Thrushes, and a Winter Wren.
Back at the parking lot we checked the lake and found hundreds of Ruddy Ducks and good numbers of Lesser Scaup and Bufflehead as well. We decided to walk along the edge of the parking lot to see if we could find any more warblers. As we were walking over there I asked Karl how good Magee was for stray western warblers. Just after he said it was not a great place for stray western warblers, I spotted an Audubon's Warbler in the trees!
Incredibly, this was the second Audubon's Warbler I had seen in two weeks! Looking at the Magee checklist it was unclear whether or not this subspecies has been recorded at Magee before, so this might be the first record for the park! While driving around the area a little more, we found a Merlin and two Long-billed Dowitchers. We decided to try the entrance road for Metzger one last time to see if we could find the previously reported Cattle Egret. This time we found it in the grass close to the road where I was able to get this picture.
After a stop at the lost peninsula in Michigan where we added Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Common Yellowthroat to our list for the day, and stopped at the Erie Marsh Preserve where we saw a Common Goldeneye, Solitary Sandpiper, lots of Dunlins, and a Vesper Sparrow, we headed home. It was definitely my best day birding this year and one of my favorite birding days ever.

Friday, April 15, 2011

White Wagtail

I finally got out to Pointe Mouillee with Karl Overman yesterday to see the White Wagtail that was found on Saturday by Adam Byrne. Incredibly, this is the third state record for Michigan. On the way in from the Mouillee Creek entrance we were pleased to see a Rough-legged hawk flying over the marshes. We reached Cell 3 at about 10:30 and the wagtail had not yet been seen. Within fifteen minutes, however, a birder from Pennsylvania spotted it feeding at the edge of the mudflat near the west dyke of Cell 3. After getting good scope views, we decided to move closer to try to get some pictures. We managed to get somewhat close and I got a few bad pictures.
Eventually, The Wagtail decided we were too close and flew to the Vermet Unit. After checking the gulls and finding a Glaucous, and several Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Karl and I headed over to the Vermit Unit where it flushed again after a little while and appeared to fly back toward Cell 3. As we were biking off, however, we heard a the two note chiz-zick call and the White Wagtail flew back in. I grabbed my brakes and almost went flying over the front of my bike, and we scanned the field for it. Pretty soon, Karl found it in the field and I eventually saw it as well. After a little while it flushed again and appeared to fly back to Cell 3. After biking around the Vermit Unit and finding lots of ducks but nothing unusual, we headed back to the car. A stop at the Erie Gun Club later turned up a Peregrine Falcon and a Northern Harrier along with several Bald Eagles.

On Wednesday, I was able to fit in a trip to Kensington to see the Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler. I got good but rather brief views of this western stray, and was able to get some good pictures.

The White Wagtail and Audubon's Warbler were both great birds and were the third and sixth state records respectively. Especially with the White Wagtail, these were not birds I was expecting to see in Michigan.