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Lake Erie Spring Migration Birding and Tourism Trip, part 1

June 3, 2017

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

Maumee Bay State Park

 

Last month, a fellow birder friend and I went up to Lake Erie for some spring migration birding and some sightseeing.  When you talk Lake Erie and birding, one place is very famous- Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, THE place to be in the eastern US for spring migration if you’re looking for warblers.  We stayed at nearby Maumee Bay State Park in one of their cabins (in reality, a small vacation home).  It turns out Maumee Bay had some nice places for birding as well.

Finally, on the way home, we stopped at East Harbor State Park for some additional birding, and some some tourist-y places- Marblehead Lighthouse and the Thomas A Edison Birthplace Museum.  We’ll look at those places next month.

We timed our visit during The Biggest Week in American Birding– the 2nd week of May during spring migration.  Northwest Ohio attracts tens of thousands of birders to such places as Magee Marsh, where it is easy to see colorful migrants gathering on the southern shore of Lake Erie before they make the big flight up into Canada for another summer nesting season.

We actually stopped at some other places as well, and we would have stopped at Perry’s Victory & International Peace Monument on Put-In-Bay Island (I’m a history buff too)  but it was closed for repairs all year.  So I’ll focus on the big places that I took plenty of pictures of.

Let’s get started!

As we neared Maumee Bay, we took this as a good sign- Bald Eagles sitting on telephone poles along the road!  They certainly have bounced back very well from near-extinction in the lower 48 states.

Driving around away from the freeways is my favorite mode of travel- you get to see backroads and small towns.

Maumee Bay State Park is a fantastic park.  Here’s some general pictures of the place.  The lodge was very crowded during the day with the Biggest Week In Birding vendors and exhibits.  Appropriately enough, there were a group of Cliff Swallows nesting up above the entrance, building their mud nests.  I blogged about Cliff Swallows building nests years ago.

Maumee Bay State Park

And now, on to the much-anticipated event- our visit to the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.  The weather was good, though the bird species counts were low due to a cold start to May.  Fortunately, migration picked up when we showed up.

Magee Marsh Boardwalk

During spring migration, large crowds of birders move through the boardwalk area at Magee.  This place is truly a Mecca for North American birders.  Overall, people were surprisingly helpful and tried not to clog up the walkways.  The parking lot is full of hundreds of cars from all over the continent.  There were even tailgaters in the lots!

Here’s some of the memorable birds we saw at Magee that day.

Nashville Warbler

Bay-Breasted Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Black & White Warbler

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Blue-Headed Vireo

Scarlet Tanager

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Bald Eagle nestling

 Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

The surrounding area of the boardwalk is marshy and contains shorebirds and waterfowl.  Here’s what we saw on our way out.

Canada Geese families were common- everyone let them cross the road on their own time

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Dunlin

White-Crowned Sparrow

Nature Center & Gift Shop

Maumee Bay Beach

looks like a lighthouse and nuclear reactor coolant towers way out along Lake Erie

fish were on the menu

Great Blue Heron

 

Caspian Terns

Common Terns

Herring Gulls

Maumee Bay Boardwalk

A nice feature of Maumee Bay State Park is a 2-mile-long boardwalk through some marshy areas and a wooded swamp near Lake Erie.

 

 

3 White-Tailed Deer browsed the marshy area and were unafraid of people

A Fox Squirrel looking intently for something near the boardwalk

Catbird- quite a few were in the wooded swamp

Common Grackle

American Robin

Veery

Swainson’s Thrush

Screech Owl in nesting box

Downy Woodpecker

Red-Winged Blackbirds

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Marsh Wrens were defending their territory, singing furiously in the tall marsh grass

Yellow Warbler

Common Yellowthroat- there were many of these hiding in the brush and protesting our visit

Northern Parula Warbler

Black-Throated Green Warbler

American Redstart

This concludes part 1 of our Lake Erie visit.  Part 2 will be along the first Saturday of July.  I hope you enjoyed the spring migration season as much as I did!

 

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. Kitty O'Meara permalink
    June 3, 2017 7:07 pm

    What glorious photographs of so many wonderful birds! Thank you so much for recording your birding adventure and sharing it with us! Just a wonderful treat and much appreciated.

  2. Cheryl Mills permalink
    June 3, 2017 8:31 pm

    What great photos! We especially like the owl in the box. Thanks for all the great posts!

  3. June 3, 2017 10:36 pm

    It’s good news that there are so many people so interested in birding! It’s gratifying to know that there are that many! That’s so good for the people and the birds both!

    • June 4, 2017 2:10 am

      You’re 100% right, montucky- and even better news: at the Biggest Week In Birding convention at the lodge, there were many vendors promoting trips to various areas around the country to see birds, including private resorts and preserves. It is wonderful to see a whole industry growing up around the love of nature!

  4. Chris Wheeler permalink
    June 3, 2017 10:46 pm

    Really nice recap of your visit to Magee and the Biggest Week! We went this year and your post really creates the feeling of being there.

    • June 4, 2017 2:21 am

      Thanks for the comment, Chris! It was a great time indeed, though we just missed the Clay-Colored Sparrow, and the Ruddy Turnstones at the beach- there’s always next year!

  5. June 3, 2017 10:49 pm

    Wow! What a lot of birds you got to see. What a great experience for you, I enjoyed seeing the scenery–makes me want to get out there! Fantastic spread-wing shot of the Great Blue Heron. It’s nice to see Bald Eagles. Our area has lost a few this year–in ways that made the news–so you know that is not a good thing.

  6. June 4, 2017 5:45 am

    Thanks for the tour of spots other than Magee. You saw quite a bit more than we did this year. We need to check out some of the other areas. Jolly Roger Seafood House is a must visit when you’re up in that area.

  7. June 4, 2017 6:28 pm

    What a feast. You didn’t seem to waste a minute of your visit.

  8. June 4, 2017 8:17 pm

    What a wonderful collection of images, Tracy! I love redwing blackbirds – they populated the fields where I grew up. I saw one in the park the other day, the first I’ve seen in years.

    • June 4, 2017 9:01 pm

      Thanks, Lynn! The Red-Wings were numerous and active, they are famous for chasing other birds away when they have nests. I’ve walked along where they nest and had them hover above me, raising a ruckus! 🙂

  9. John Northcutt Young permalink
    June 11, 2017 12:33 pm

    Always enjoy your posts Tracy! Looking forward to Part 2.

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  1. Lake Erie Spring Migration Birding and Tourism Trip, part 2 | Seasons Flow

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