Well, turns out I was wrong… maybe lol. While I do think that the migration was in fact running early, it certainly got bogged down in May. Lots of rain and strong winds in not the right directions held the birds back from northern Ohio, but boy did they show up in numbers this past week.
Friday, May 15th was the big day, with big numbers of warblers reported almost everywhere: Whiskey Island in Cleveland, Erie Street Cemetery also in Cleveland, Firestone Metro Park in Akron, Mentor Marsh in Lake County, Meadowbrook Marsh in Ottawa County… 18, 19, even 20 different species of warbler reported at all of these northern Ohio locales. And big numbers of individuals: Kenn Kaufman reported 350 Blackburnian Warblers as Meadowbrook alone! He must’ve brought out his bird “clicker!” There were several sightings of the depleted and almost endangered Golden-winged Warbler, and even three sightings of Kirtland’s Warbler reported. All this with our famous Magee Marsh closed for the season.
I myself went birding yesterday, the 16th, and was not disappointed. Birding with a friend, Joan Scharf, the day started off very foggy and the trees continuing to drip with rain from the overnight precipitation. This drove the birds low, and we were able to observe 19 unique warbler species, including Cape May, Canada, Tennessee, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Wilson’s, Bay-breasted and others. A Mourning Warbler was sighted by one of the County’s top birders, which we heard but could not get a visual on. And there wereLeast Flycatchers everywhere, and also a few different Thrush species. As the sun finally poked out, slowly burning off the fog, the birds went high in the canopies, and it became harder to get them. It personally was my best day ever in my road back to birding.
Shorebird migration has been picking up, as I observed flocks of Dunlin at both ONWR Boss Unit and Howard Marsh Metropark in Ottawa and Lucas Counties respectively. A variety is now being seen, but not in great numbers, including Black-belled Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Long and Short-billed Dowitcher, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and rare reports of Willet here and there. Herons are also returning, with Green reported everywhere, and also Black-crowned Night Herons and one Yellow-crowned Night Heron report, along with two reports of Little Blue Herons, one at Mentor Marsh, which I was fortunate to observe
So where do we go from here? Well, according to Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) datasets, we still have the third wave to look forward to, and people are already starting to report the arrival of the later migrants, like Blackpoll Warblers. This last wave of migrants is projected to be May 24th-26th, which is to coincide with peak migration of shorebirds as well. Hopefully the weather cooperates, as this month has been quite wet and windy thus far. I’m guessing, but I’m figuring that this last big ouch will also occur a bit late, likely two days later that projected. But it should be interesting to see nonetheless.