Monday, March 24, 2008

A good end to a day of birding: Red-necked Grebe

Saturday was our monthly Avid birders' trip. We decided that the action was at the Lake Erie marshes, so we headed north, unaware that the 1-2 inches of snow forecast had turned into 6 inches of snow. The roads were generally awful until about noon, when the sun came out and the road surface re-emerged. We had to push Paul's car out of the ditch twice!

We hit a few different places, starting at Pearson Metropark for feeder birds, including a nice Fox sparrow, then hit Maumee Bay SP in search of waterfowl and Rusty Blackbirds. The best blackbird of note there was Eastern Meadowlark, although for me the best bird there was Tundra Swan, year bird number 100. We only spent 15 minutes at Ottawa NWR, as the parking lot near the dikes was unplowed, but we did add Red-shouldered Hawk to the list. We then headed to Metzger Marsh, where I added Lesser Yellowlegs to my year list, and we sorted through thousands and thousands of ducks hoping for rarities. Metzger Marsh is where I saw my life (and only) Eurasian Widgeon, but no such luck today. Diving ducks were the vast majority of the huge mixed flocks, and seemed to be mainly Redheads, with large numbers of Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, and Lesser Scaup as well. Gadwall and American Widgeon were present as well.

Then it was off to Magee Marsh, a very productive location for us. I added Wilson's snipe, Tree Swallow, Winter Wren, Rusty Blackbird, and Northern Shrike to my year list, and we had another good look at a Fox Sparrow, as well as a first year Bald Eagle. I also got a free "Warblers of Ohio and Eastern North America" song cd at the Sportsmens center. It was interesting walking through 4 inches of snow on the boardwalk - the next time I will probably be there will be in May, when it will be thronged with many birders and hopefully even more warblers.
Northern Shrike, Magee Marsh

Wilson's Snipe, Magee Marsh

First-year Bald Eagle, Magee Marsh

Our last stop was Hoover Reservoir back in Columbus, where a number of rare migrants had been reported, including Red-throated Loon, Eared Grebe, and Red-necked Grebe. We never found the Eared Grebe, but had good looks at the Red-throated Loon, and I got a decent but breif look at the Red-necked Grebe before it dove and disappeared. Also present was an Eastern Phoebe, a nice addition to the year list to bring me to 133 for the year and 110 for Ohio.

The Red-necked Grebe was the bird of the day for me, as it was a new bird for my Ohio list. It was also not one of the 14 target birds from my earlier post in February - somehow I managed to overlook it. So, I have 12 left before 200, but still have 13 birds on that target list. Pretty good omen, I hope.

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