Sunday, May 20, 2012

Our Biggest Day at the Biggest Week!

 American Woodcocks... at this particular location along the boardwalk, there were two families totaling 8!

My son and I made a last minute decision and a mad dash north after deciding we couldn't take hearing about and/or reading one more person's post on Facebook about what a good time they were having or the awesome birds they were seeing at the Biggest Week in American Birding.  It seemed as though everybody in the U.S.(and from around the world) that had any passion for birds was there and by golly, we were going to be too!  If for only one day.

We arrived late Friday night and after getting some essential nutrition (Taco Bell and Oreos) to fuel us up for our Big Saturday we headed to bed ready to dream about the warblers to come...

 A massive assemblage of birders taking their turn to see the very rare Kirtland's Warbler.

Saturday came early but we were ready.  Not having much time, we headed straight for the main drag, the boardwalk at Magee Marsh.  This boardwalk serves as a resting spot for migrants that are heading farther north over Lake Erie as well as a final destination for other migrants that are ready to stop and nest.  It twists and turns through several acres of woodland habitat making it very appealing to birders of all ages and abilities.  Warblers and other migrants often seem to be "dripping" from the trees and at times double digits of species can been seen without hardly moving an inch - often, within minutes.  No, I am not exaggerating.

 Baltimore Oriole.  This awesome bird was everywhere!

Barn Swallow.  One of many at the Magee Marsh Bird Center entrance.

My son and I spent most of our day on the boardwalk and never left the Magee Marsh area.  In our short time, we racked up 17 species of warblers along with a multitude of other cool birds that were at times, only a few feet away from our  face.  Baltimore Orioles, Bald Eagles, American Woodcocks, Swainson's Thrushes, Red-eyed Vireos, Great Egrets, Trumpeter Swans, and Eastern Kingbirds came into view constantly throughout the day to remind us that we were definitely in a real-life fantasy!

 View of Lake Erie from the parking lot of Magee Marsh.

We took only two breaks during the day.  One, to have a quick lunch and the second, to track down some of the great people of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory.  We lucked out and were able to catch up with Karen Zach, Kim Kaufman, and Ken Keffer.  Because these amazing folks were so busy we were unfortunately not able to chat long but, we were able to exchange a few handshakes and hugs and it is this that made our day complete!

Our long trip home wasn't really long enough.  In one day we were able to bank enough bird stories to last us a lifetime.  Memories that my son and I will have forever.  Memories of our Big Day during the Biggest Week.  Memories that we would not have if it were not for birds!

Prothonatary Warbler.  We watched as this very tenacious bird remove mouthfuls of moss from the base of many trees to build her nest under the stairs of the boardwalk.

Trumpeter Swans.  Always adding a touch of class to the marsh.


Kimberly Kaufman said...

Wonderful post, as always, Chad! I'm so sorry we were in the midst of end-of-the-day cleanup and didn't have much time to talk. I would have loved to hear more about your day - and catch up on everything else, too!

Take care and Kenn and I will hope to see ya'll very soon!


Kelly said...

...that was a big day!! Glad you and your son made it up. I hope I can get Matty up there next year. I'm sure he would love it too. (I know just where you saw that Prothonotary! I saw it too a few days earlier. It really stood out...the yellow is gorgeous!)

Indiana State Bird

Indiana State Bird
Northern Cardinal