Wednesday, April 29, 2015

More Birding at Magee Marsh in April

Last weekend, I made one more trip to BSBO and Magee Marsh to prepare for the 2015 Biggest Week in American Birding and found time to go birding on both Saturday and Sunday. Although it was nearly the end of April, it felt more like the beginning of the month with the bird species that were present. Warblers were almost completely absent with only Yellow-rumped and Palm seen and other early migrants like Hermit Thrush and Ruby-crowned Kinglet appeared in very small numbers. The best bird of the weekend for me was a Blue-headed Vireo that was very cooperative for photos!

My first Blue-headed Vireo of 2015.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Taste of Mexico

Traveling down to Mexico in this VW bus was a memorable experience.
While in Mexico, I was able to pick up a few new birds for my Mexico list
such as Lark Sparrow, Violet-green Swallow, and Gambel's Quail.

Eric writes: Greetings from Johnson City, TX

If you've never been to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona, there's no better time than now.  In past years, much of the park has been closed due to illegal activity relating to the United States-Mexico border but it is now completely open to the public.  I was there conducting breeding bird surveys but most of the highlights came in the afternoon, after completing the surveys.  

Here are some photos from the week I spent there:

The US-Mexico border from the Mexico side.
Western Diamondback from Organ Pipe.  In one day, we had 8 rattlesnakes of 3 species.
The first Sidewinder I had ever seen.  We saw 5 on this night.
A Western Diamondback that was very well hidden.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Birding in NW Ohio in Preparation for the Biggest Week in American Birding

Rob writes: I always look forward to April. The weather starts to get better in my area, the trees start to bud, and most importantly, many of our migrant birds begin to return. April is also the time of year that the preparations for the Biggest Week in American Birding enter the final stages as we count down the days until the start of the festival in early May.

Each April, I make two trips to Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Magee Marsh in Ohio to spend time meeting with all of our amazing volunteers who serve as leaders and drivers for over 100 field trips during the festival. Once these meetings start, I know that both the festival and the warblers will be arriving very soon! Like any birder, I always find some time to sneak away during my trips and do a bit of birding.

During my time at the famous Magee Marsh boardwalk this past weekend, the area was full of typical early spring migrants such as Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, Fox Sparrows, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. There were also a few surprises, like a very early Ovenbird and a species I'd never seen at Magee Marsh before - Henslow's Sparrow!

There were many Brown Creeper calling as I walked along the Boardwalk.
Hermit Thrushes foraged on the ground and seemed to ignore us as we walked along the Boardwalk.
My friend Brian captured this great shot of a very unusual Henslow's Sparrow on the Crane Creek Estuary Trail.
Another big highlight for me was photographing a Blanding's Turtle as it was making its way across the causeway leading to the the marsh. This is an endangered species, and we were sure to help it across the road after taking some photos so that no one would hit it.

This Blanding's Turtle was a highlight of my weekend!
Just before I needed to start my drive back home, we noticed that raptors were beginning to migrate overhead as the temperatures rose, creating thermals for them to ride. I saw my first Broad-winged Hawks of the year migrating overhead as well as Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Bald Eagles, and one Peregrine Falcon.

I'm looking forward to heading back to Ohio in 2 weeks and seeing how much farther along migration is at that point. We are only 23 days away from The Biggest Week now!  If you haven't registered yet, there's still time to join us at the biggest birding festival in the US.  Click here for more details:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Amos Butler Audubon and the Cerulean Warbler

Rob writes: As many of our long-time readers know, both Eric and I have been participating in the Amos Butler Audubon Society Birdathon for many years. This event is a major fundraiser for conservation projects both close to home in Indiana as well as all over the world. One of the main reasons I have always loved this birdathon is that a lot of the funds have been donated to the American Bird Conservancy's (ABC) project to help protect the Cerulean Warbler.

Eric banded this Cerulean Warbler while working on a banding project in Louisiana last spring.
Amos Butler's birdathon has been making donations to this project for many years, and ABC just put out a press release that details the success of the project to protect the Cerulean Warbler's winter habitat in Columbia. In addition to the creation of two reserves (both of which I would love to visit), ABC along with FundaciĆ³n ProAves (a leading conservation organization in Columbia) have created a 6-mile long by 1/2-mile wide conservation corridor connecting the two properties. They've planted 500,000 seedlings on nearly 3,000 acres of land to make this corridor happen!

ABC has provided this map to show where the work to save the Cerulean Warbler has occurred.
Learn more about all of the work they have done by reading their latest press release about the project here. You can support my team in this year's birdathon by following this link and donating to the the Wild Birds Unlimited Team.