Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Biggest Week in American Birding: Part 1

It has taken me awhile to start writing some blog posts about my experiences at the Biggest Week in American Birding (BWIAB) in northwest Ohio due to work and being under the weather, but I am finally going to post a short series about my experiences during my time there from May 5-11.

After spending the morning of May 5th with some young birders at the Indiana Audubon Society's Spring Festival, I headed up to Maumee Bay State Park where most of the BWIAB festivities were being held. I arrived around 5pm and had just enough time to check in, drop my things at the house I was staying at, and do a little birding before heading to Kenn Kaufman's evening keynote speech. Kenn gave a fascinating talk about the patterns of bird migration in North America. Afterwards, I was lucky enough to join Kenn, his wife Kim, and two new friends, Tiffany and Katie, for dinner at the Oregon Inn. I had never been here before, but the food was wonderful and the owner was very interested in being involved with the BWIAB next year!

The next morning I was up and out very early because I was leading a field trip to the Catawba/Marblehead area that left Maumee Bay at 6am. The field trips for the BWIAB are designed to show people the hidden treasures that surround the world famous Magee Marsh, and this trip definitely delivered. We visited three sites that are about 30 minutes east of Magee. Our first stop was at Cedar Meadow Preserve. We had many participants from the west coast on this trip, and they were very excited by some of the birds that us easterners get to enjoy on a regular basis. We enjoyed great views of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, and an Eastern Kingbird. My highlight at this stop was my only Blue-winged Warbler of the week!

Our next and most productive stop was at East Harbor State Park. This park is usually ignored by birders but really has great potential for awesome birds. The first thing that was obvious when we started hiking around this park was the huge number of Baltimore Orioles present. I estimated that we had around 25, but that was likely an underestimate. Some of the other highlights at this location were Wilson's Warbler, Orchard Oriole, Lesser Scaup, Broad-winged Hawk, Philadelphia Vireo, and Lincoln's Sparrow.

Philadelphia Vireo
We made one final stop at Meadowbrook Marsh, but the bird activity was a little slow here in mid-afternoon. Our highlights were Bald Eagle, Veery, and Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Cape May, and Chestnut-sided Warblers. We had a wonderful day in the field and were able to expose participants to these wonderful birding locations away from the boardwalk at Magee.

Blackburnian Warbler
As we pulled back into Maumee Bay, I recognized one of the presenters that happened to be staying in the same house as me. I introduced myself to Drew Lanham, and we headed for the house. (I'll address Drew's awesome "Diversity in Birding" presentation in another post.) After a quick stop at Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) and a very little bit of birding, we met up with another trip leader who was also staying with us at the house, Doug Gray and his wife LeShon. We went over to Port Clinton for dinner at McCarthy's Irish Pub. The pub is a member of BSBO's Birds and Business Alliance. This is a group of businesses in northwest Ohio that are all in support of BSBO and all of the conservation initiatives in the region. These businesses recognize birders' economic impact and want to be sure that they support the organization that helps bring all of us to the area.

I'm excited to share more of my BWIAB experiences with you - additional posts will come later this week!

- Rob

1 comment:

Linda Rockwell said...

Very enjoyable post and nice photos! I had an absolutely wonderful time at The Biggest Week, and reading blog posts about it brings back find memories. it was a pleasure to meet you, and I hope to see you again next year. :-)