Wednesday 21 May 2014

Magee Marsh, Ohio - Day Two

The rain had cleared for the second day of my visit (Friday 16th May), the sun was out but so too were the crowds. Added to that, it was cold, very cold in fact. I layered up but anytime I stopped for a while to watch a bird I would begin to shiver.
This time I started at the east end of the boardwalk and warbler numbers were good with Magnolia Warblers and American Redstarts being the commonest species still. In the willows along the edge of the water I had a single Ruby-crowned Kinglet, my only one of the trip. Once I had done a full circuit of the boardwalk I returned to get my camera gear but the crowds and harsh light meant photos were very difficult.

Crowds and strong light meant photos were difficult

I took a quick stroll of the lake shore edge and added Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper to the trip list.

Lake Erie shoreline

After lunch I joined the band of photographers who had set up in front of the woodland edge just off the parking lot near the west entrance. They had spiked oranges on the trees to tempt the Orioles and Tanagers and every so often some warblers would come to the edge of the wood and feed down low presenting good photo opportunities.

Male Baltimore Oriole

If this wasn't good enough then, the Catharus Thrushes would venture out of the wood and begin foraging on the ground around our feet. It wasn't uncommon to have a Swainson's Thrush poking around between the legs of my tripod. They were joined by Gray-cheeked Thrushes also and it was a great opportunity to compare the two species side by side. The Swainson's clearly a lot more buffy around the face and with a buff coloured eye-ring, the Gray-cheeks were colder and more gray looking simply.
On the warbler side of things, we had regular visits from a stunning male Bay-breasted Warbler

Male Bay-breasted Warbler
As you can see from the first shot, I continued to struggle a little with the external flash and fresnel lens set-up. This is de riguer for US bird photographers but a no-no in Europe. So this was the first time I have used the external flash and I found it tricky to balance the ratio of ambient light and light from the flash. The shot above of the singing bird has too much flash in my opinion, I may be able to reduce it a little in CS5 but I'm posting the image here to make a point. The second image is much better, I still used flash but I reduced the power by decreasing the FEC to -2.
We were also entertained by at least three male Yellow-rumped or Myrtle Warblers, the other guys didn't pay much attention to them but having only ever seen one before on Cape Clear Island, I was quite taken by these birds.

Male Yellow-rumped Warbler
We had brief visits too from a male Cape May, this was a species I hadn't paid too much attention to in the field guides before my trip (don't ask me why), but once you see it, it is a stunning bird.

Male Cape May Warbler
For me, the male Blackburnian Warbler is possibly my all time favourite species. One male was present but preferred to stay well back, he did come close-ish on one occasion and while I could always have a better shot, I was reasonably happy with this one.

Male Blackburnian Warbler
Before I finished up for the day a striking male Black-throated Blue dropped by, the light was going so I only managed one decent shot. Here he is with a bug in his bill.

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler
More on day three!

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