Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Crane Creek State Park (Magee Marsh) Ohio

2010-04-27 11:00 am - 3:00 pm Magee Marsh

This was the first time we ever went there. Last year as a new birder I kept reading about this special place from postings by Michigan birders. Yes, it is a great place, and I can see where it might really be "magical" at times! I wanted to go before the leaves obscured the birds (so we could take photos) and before the crowds of birders arrived. Mission accomplished! We caught two "lifers" plus a mink never seen where I shot it at the beginning of the boardwalk! Judy called out "Critter!" while I was changing my memory card (go figure, the one time I needed to do this!) and yet I managed to get the camera up before he left!

Magee Mink!

There were a few people from a local bird club pulling the invasive Garlic Mustard in the area and when I showed my pics to one of them, he walked me around to show it to the rest - including the "Mayor of the Boardwalk" - so I know it was a really cool sighting! Retrospectively, it was probably the presence of the club members off the boardwalk that spooked the mink to run. These are the only good mink pics I ever shot!

There were only about a dozen or so (10 to 20) birders on the boardwalk. It was great! Everyone was very friendly and helpful with what we saw - with the  exception of one photographer who kept getting in front of me when I saw a bird. A "fancy lens a...ole" he was. He probably sells his photos. I just wonder if we could ever find out how to sort out reputable photographers from the trash? I was so upset I did not want to ask for his card or website. You probably know the type - if not this specific trash guy.

Anyway, my pics are free as usual. If I ever get a good one that you want, just let me know and I can sell you a higher quality one very cheaply - or just give it to you. I wish I had a fancy lens , but I am quite happy that my 70-300 mm catches some good stuff. Well, the secret is (sssh!): shoot lots, delete 90%, and just go birding and have fun!

Ed Levandowski had told me thatI would get all the Ruby-crowned Kinglets I wanted at Magee. Well, he was almost right! I saw lots! But these guys were so cool, I still want more! Even though I caught the red crown, I would love to see it raised more!

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Another "lifer" was the White-throated Sparrow. I saw them a couple of times, but the most interesting thing was watching them "leaf-rustling" near the beginning of the boardwalk. These guys and a House Wren were lots of fun as they picked through the leaves - looking for bugs I think. Besides them, a female Red-winged Blackbird was doing the same thing, but I had seen it before, so it did not impress me so much.

White-throated Sparrow

House Wren on tree before "leaf rustling" 

OK, so here are a couple of pics for discussion. I thought I was shooting a Great Egret, and just liked the posing and fishing, but after I saw the pics I think I might have caught the mythical "Great White Heron". What do you think? The bill is black or dark on the upper side and is very thick!

"Great White Heron"

Not too many warblers seen yet. A Palm Warbler and a Yellow-rumped Warbler (aka, "butter butt").
 Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Here is the species list:

Purple Martins - lots - nesting at park office ( I shot my best pics so far - they were very close!)
Barn Swallows - lots - nesting at park office
Tree Swallows- lots
Great Egret- 5
Red-Winged Blackbirds - lots
Rusty Blackbird?
Palm Warbler - 1
Yellow-Rumped Warbler - 2
Double-Crested Cormorants - 6
Kingfisher (heard)
Ruby-Crowned Kinglets (many) (Lifer!)
Mallard - a few
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher - few
White-Throated Sparrow - a few (Lifer!)
House Wren - a few
Eastern Phoebe?
Hermit Thrush - 2
Great Blue Heron - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 2
Grackles - many
Painted Turtles - 5
Mink - 1

OK, to close with a pic, here is the best Painted Turtle pic I ever shot. Cute!

We will be going back next week (mid-week) to see perhaps some "magic" - like the "raining warblers" gestalt some website mentioned for this time period!

Go Bird! Go Magee Marsh!


Ben Warner said...

That certainly is a Great "white" Heron, the Great Blue Heron's white morph. Very rare outside florida as you know, quite an interesting sighting!!
- Ben Warner

Cathy Carroll said...

Bob, I agree with Ben Warner's comments above. Having just returned from Florida where we saw a few in the Keys, this is a very nice bird to find in Ohio. Good photo, too. I am certainly not an AOU expert prognosticator, but there is the chance that this bird could be split from the Great Blue Heron. In which case, you will be able to add it to your list. I don't know how involved you wish to become, but it may be worth submitting this photo to the Ohio Birds Record Committee. The thing is, this time of year, no one is paying attention to egrets and herons, etc. The focus is really all about the small birds. It is possible that the presence of this bird is not known by others. Good Ruby-crowned photos, too.

Jerry said...

Brilliant post, Bob!

Kenn Kaufman said...

Hi Dr. Bob, I posted this on the Ohio-birds listserve in response to your post there, but decided I should repeat it here. --
Nice account of Magee, and very good photos. About the heron -- the photos actually show a Great Egret in nearly full breeding color. Of course Great Egret has an all-yellow bill for most of the year, but in breeding condition it develops a lot of blackish along the ridge of the upper mandible and a lot of dark green on the bare facial skin in front of the eye. It can look startling if you're accustomed to seeing their usual appearance at other times of year, and most field guides don't show this seasonal color change very well. The "Great White Heron" of Florida would have a bigger-headed look and a thicker neck, and its bill would look even larger than on the bird in the photos.

"Dr. Bob" said...

Thanks Kenn! Yes, I was primarily keying on the dark upper mandible, and the bill looks very heavy compared with some field guides. Had I thought about it at the time - rather than when I was looking at pics - I could have waited to see leg color. I guess black legs are characteristic of the Great Egret. In a quick pic of a bird on top of the rock dike on the same day, I clearly see black legs. I do not know if it is the same bird, but it also has a blackish upper mandible.

Ben Warner said...

I shouldn't look at photos in the middle of the night. after looking again, I think I was wrong. :(