Friday, May 03, 2013

The Golden Daze of Spring Migration

 Flock of American Golden-plovers in various stages of molt.

Although it threatens my status as a curmudgeon, I too-often say there are no bad days for birding; some are just better than others. And then there are the days that are pure gold.
Spring migration seems to be off to a slow-to-moderate pace here in northeast Ohio, compared with some years that feel like spring has passed before you can get your binoculars up to your eyes. This year Susan and I, joined by birding buddy Karin, opted for an early start, hoping to catch the first waves of warblers and others as they passed through Magee Marsh on their way to the Arctic tundra.

Blackburnian Warblers have that strange way of looking at you that makes you think ...

After several slow days, the pace of species and numbers of birds picked up. In the distant future, May 1 will be one of those days we’ll swap lies about with other birders when they start in with, “Ya shoulda been here when …” It was a golden day.
It was the kind of day that keeps birders coming back, year after year, just like the birds. Of the many highlights, I think top-of-the-list award goes to the relatively cooperative Golden-winged Warbler, first spotted by Karin and Susan. This species is such a rare find (for us at least) that we all figured it has been maybe 15 years since we last saw one. True to form, I had put the camera away for the day and we were going to bird a small patch of trees just to top off the day. Top off the day we did. I even surprised myself at how quickly I could get back to the car and get a few shots of the tree-top visitor.

Golden-winged Warbler

Earlier in the day we had tracked down an elusive flock of American Golden-plovers. This species is not unknown in this area, however, several birds in this bunch had molted into breeding plumage, a form we rarely get to see. In the late afternoon sun there was no doubt about identification.
Even earlier, as the sun was first making an appearance, when birds tend to feed on insects near the ground, we had perfect looks at another bird that sports a lot of gold—the Palm Warbler.

Palm Warbler

Right. Some days are just better than others. We had a week of those days and it ain’t over, yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Clyde, You've identified some birds that I've seen but didn't know--thank you for that, and for your humor. I think you would get along great with an artist friend of mine by the name of Tom Baldwin. He's in Cuyahoga Falls and he's known for his bird carvings. See