Sunday, April 27, 2014

Missing at Magee Marsh last week

Judy and I went to Magee Marsh (NW Ohio) and surrounds last week on Thursday (4/24/2014) to see birds and also to help us rekindle our memories and plan our longest trip ever during The Biggest Week In American Birding.

We saw some good birds, but here my post is about what was missing. Interesting! I stress missing! Yes I know many folks are like us and hate crowds, and yes, we chose to not go during the first year we learned about the Biggest Week because we knew there would be many people there. But now we always want to be there right in the middle of the whole international amazing event! This was a  fun trip to catch "early birds" and plan what we wanted for our longer trip in a week.

I guarantee it will NOT look like this in a week or so! In fact, judging from more recent birder's posts on Facebook and list servers, I do not think it looks like this now ...

(Note that most pics are from my cell phone. A really cool device that takes pics for scale when a larger lens does not have a story to tell!)
Entrance to Magee Marsh boardwalk!
Guarantee it will not look like this in the next few days or weeks!
In fact, very rare that it looks like this ever!
From near the entrance to boardwalk looking at roped-off area by nesting eagle
(black dot in tree - and, yes, Momma was home)
Where IS everyone??? Is this "for real"? Our car - alone? At Magee Marsh?

Can you believe it? Early migration at Magee? 

There were few people there - less than a couple dozen. Yes, it was early, and yes, some folks like to come earlier to avoid crowds like we did our first year. And also some folks like to catch the early migrants. But we really missed many things that will happen during the Biggest Week!

Only one birder near the newly-refurbished tower area by the entrance.
Hey! Your donations really help!!!
We saw many areas where they were able to fix up the boardwalk because of donations!
Looking great in some areas, but we also saw some areas that need help.Keep donating, please!!!

For example:

1) We missed all the "eyes"! During the Biggest Week there are so many people who are watching a bird and share its exact location with everyone. We were basically on our own!

Judy is happy we are there!
And it is always nice to be out and about alone with her,
but where IS everyone??
2) We missed all the good birders who tell us the name of the bird we are looking at! Yes, in a way it is "cheating" - I sort of think I should have done it on my own by using the guidebooks - but if I took the time to try to look it up, the bird would be long gone! Far better to make notes and memories, and then to look it up later! Far better to have a name (I guess I am really compulsive about names ...) and have the time to really study its patterns and coloration, and take a few pics, and then to later compare my recollections and pics (assuming they turn out ...) with the half-dozen books I carry in the car.

3) We missed meeting so many friends in the same place at the same time! Many of our birding friends are Facebook friends, and many of them we have yet to meet. It is always more  fun to "bird" with our friends!

4) We missed counting license plates from so many states. It is amazing how many state plates we usually see there! Of less than a dozen cars in the Magee lot, we saw West Virginia and Georgia plates, and later met a couple from Maryland when we were dining at Blackberry Corners. Bring on the migrant plates! Fun!

5) We missed many bird species. Indeed we were a tad early for the "big show". But we got some great birds anyway!

6) We missed the "ears" to tell us what songs we were hearing. Actually I am not really good with bird songs, and being older,  I probably do not even hear many of them, but is fascinating that someone will say they heard a "whatever bird". What talent! Often I DO learn. It was great that just as I was hearing the sound I call a "jungle sound" (I knew I had learned that before but could not place it) that a birder was walking by, and when the bird "fired up" again he said it was a Northern Flicker. Yes, I knew I had heard that before - just need to recharge my ears each year. Thanks!

7 And, of course we missed all the scheduled activities of the Biggest Week like the walks and talks and trips and all the things that come with registration. Maybe these are the best learning opportunities of all! But, we are registered and ready to take full advantage of all the great stuff that starts in slightly more than a week. Many events are already fully reserved, but especially the great talks and seminars might still be available at registration at the conference center (internet registration is closed).


We saw some great birds and took a few of our best pics ever - especially of the very cooperative Prothonotary Warbler! (Well worth the trip itself!)

And, interestingly, we picked up our own copies of the Biggest Week Guide at the motel as we checked out. I knew we are among the first to get a "hard copy" because it was not there the day before! Cool! When you get there you can get your own FREE copy at many local establishments. I think that is SO welcoming that when you arrive at a lodging they have Biggest Week guides by the counter! Welcome indeed!!! Yes, the guide has been on the web in electronic form for awhile, and I would highly recommend you use the web version to help plan your trip, but having this lovely guide in hand is far better than on the electronic bush! Great job on the guide everyone!!!

(BTW, this humble blogger has a photo and reference to my blog on page 16 - an honor I do not take lightly!).

Happy with a first hard copy of  BWIAB Visitor's Guide!

Since you made it this far, I will reward you with a couple more pics. Thanks for reading!

Here's Judy at "Prothonotary Junction".  I call it that because this beautiful warbler had been hanging around there (Thanks to the cool birder who pointed it out to us and who had watched it for at least a half hour the day before!). The bird made many similarly long visits since - based on the blog from Jerry Jourdan a couple days later and also Kim Smith's blog about seeing the bird the day before. I suspect it so far might be the record for the most photographed bird this year!!! Who knows what will happen during the Biggest Week!!!
On our way back from walking the boardwalk.
Bird left and people left. But we learned the bird came back for the "show" the next day!
Prothonotary Warbler - Judy SX50 pic
Her best ever! And the best for either of us!!!
Great gift to us from a great  bird!

Yes, I took a few myself. Also my best ever. But I wanted to showcase Judy's photo! Even one photo like this is well worth the drive and time spent!!! Great place and great time!!!

Hope to see you all there and to meet our friends again!!!


Kelly said...

You're is so much fun to be there in the mix with all the birders. I can't wait to arrive!

"Dr. Bob" said...

It is all fun! Both fore and aft - but you are right - especially fun in the middle!