Sunday, May 17, 2009

If this is Magee Marsh, that must be a Magnolia Warbler ...

... or a Bay-breasted Warbler, American Redstart, Chestnut-sided Warbler and others too numerous to count.  In all his years of birding, this was my friend Steve Sanford's first visit to Magee Marsh, also known as Crane Creek.  Now he thinks he will make it an annual affair.  Of course, following his move from Baltimore to Sharon, Pennsylvania earlier this spring, he also lives six hours closer.  But, a ten hour drive did not deter other birding friends from Baltimore.  On the boardwalk we unexpectedly ran into Gail, Georgia and Dan.  It was great to have this surprise meeting.  The Washtenaw Audubon Society field trip lead by Karen Markey also took place this day.  No matter who you were or where you came from, no one went home disappointed.  I wanted to leave by 4:00 pm so I could get home for the Preakness.  Conditions were so birdy, I did not meet my deadline and missed Rachel Alexandra beat the colts.    

When I got home, I downloaded 230 photos and then immediately went through and deleted about 200 of them.  I think the survivors can make a respectable showing here, but not in taxonomic order.  Of note, most of the day was deeply overcast and it did rain for at least an hour in the afternoon.  The dark appearance of many of the photos can be attributed to this gray overcast light.  Much later in the day the sun finally did come out.
Oops, that's not a bird.  It's a baby bunny.  Amidst hundreds of birders, this little bunny was trying to find a place to nibble.  It's making its retreat under the warbler sign platform.
A perched Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) spent the day sleeping in a tree behind the warbler sign.  This is the first perched nighthawk I have ever seen.  After viewing this photo, some might argue that I still haven't seen one perched.  However, we did get great views of the bird through Dan's scope.
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens).
Blackpoll Warbler (Dendroica striata).
Chestnut-sided Warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica).
Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia), the most numerous warbler of the day.  I overheard one birder comment that the Magnolia Warbler is truly under-appreciated.  I'm inclined to agree with her; perhaps because on days like these they are so common. 
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris).
Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea).
Bay-breasted Warbler (Dendroica castanea), arguably the star of the day for photo opportunities.
Here's the Bay-breasted pretending to be a Black-and-White Warbler (Mniotilita varia).
These snuggling Eastern Screech-Owls (Megascops asio), one red the other gray, were perched up high on a leafy branch.  They remained here all day.  We also got scoped views of a young Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) at its nest.  The parent bird, undoubtedly nearby, was not seen.
Female Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens).  I had one great opportunity to also capture photos of a male, but none were in focus enough to meet even my minimal standards.
This silent empidonax flycatcher went unidentified until I got home.  I am calling it an Alder (Empidonax alnorum).  If anyone wishes to disagree, please let me know.  We also got great looks at Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris) but none of my three photos could make the cut.
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophyrs);  probably my best photo of the day.
Veery (Catharus fuscescens).
Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus).  We also had terrific looks at Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus).

In all, I believe we saw 24 species of warblers which included just one each of Cape May (Dendroica tigrina), Nashville (Vermivora ruficapilla), Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla), Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus) and Mourning Warbler (Oporornis philadelphia).  A bird identified as an Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata) was probably a female Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) despite the fact that it did have an orange smudge on its forehead.  Perhaps it stuck its face in pollen or something.  
In all we saw and or heard at least 84 species (not including starling, pigeon, or house sparrow) without really even trying.  After a more careful review of the photos I have, I may add (or delete) some.  Despite very so-so weather (charitable description) Steve and I had a great day.

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