Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bird on the Boardwalk, Boardwalk

Somehow, it seems to rain a lot when we go to a birding festival, and it's been no different here in Ohio. On Tuesday, we were soaked within 10 minutes after getting off the bus. We drove around for several more hours, but everyone refused to take more than three steps away from the vehicle. Today, there was no sun, but no rain either, so we rushed to the Magee Marsh Boardwalk and what a great day we had. Good thing, too, since they are predicting severe storms for our trip across Lake Erie to Pelee Point in Canada. Keep you fingers crossed for us!
The most thrilling bird today was a Prothonotary Warbler, nesting in a poison ivy covered cavity. We found it because the big cameras were all lined up along the fence. I've decided those big lenses are really hunting cameras. All we have to do to find the great birds is follow them around! This bird was so close you didn't need a zoom lens at all.
Hundreds of birders walked the boardwalk, and the birds didn't seem too concerned for the most part...
...although she did check several times to see if the coast was clear. I got two photos of the empty nest hole, followed by two photos of her tail for every picture of her face!
"Yellow" is hardly the word to describe a Yellow Warbler. How about citron? Lemon? Saffron? Solar? I would have been blinded if the sun shined on this bird!
Working through the crowds can be a bit annoying sometimes at events like this. Once in a while I can actually answer someone's questions. I do enjoy having someone else tell me the names of Mystery Birds, and usually they are Life Birds for Dick and Me. I knew this bird was some sort of Thrush, and just thought we could look it up back in the room. Another birder confirmed this to be the elusive Veery! It has an eerie song on the CD, sounding like a duet with itself inside a cave full of echos, although it was silent this morning. We also found a Warbling Vireo in this manner. Thank you masked birder!
Both Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows swooped and soared overhead no matter where we went today.
There is no way I would spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment, then walk off and leave it unattended on the slippery boardwalk. I'd be afraid someone would trip on the tripod legs and fall over the rig. Also, I wouldn't want to lug the stuff around all day! We saw someone with it half an hour later.
Goose families are all over the preserves, and they just walk across the road from one water impoundment to another. Unfortunately, some birders seem to forget bird safety once they get in their cars. As we waited in line for the babies to cross the road, several cars sped around us in a hurry to get somewhere. I guess if they had hit the birds, we would have taken their license number, but no one got hurt this time.
Unlike the Swallows, Eastern Kingbirds are happy to perch a while to have their photos taken.
I say this place should be renamed "The Red-Winged Blackbird Capital of the World", but I guess that wouldn't fit on a bumper sticker, would it? Then I see birds like this Chestnut -Sided Warbler. Maybe "Warbler Capital of the World" isn't such a bad name after all.
Birding by Ear has become my mainstay. I count birds whether I see them or not, just if I hear the song. We have been surrounded by Baltimore Orioles, and today I almost dislocated my neck to find one above us on the boardwalk. I have not been able to see the Black-Throated Green Warblers, or the Common Yellowthroats that we hear everywhere we go. I still have hope though!
An American Redstart peers shyly around a branch, and I shot him... ...followed by a House Wren singing at the top of his little voice. Here's hoping we survive the weather on Lake Erie tomorrow, and get some photos from Canada.

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