I have recently returned from a week at The Biggest Week in American Birding, a ten-day birding festival in Northwest Ohio. Nothing in my experience as a New Mexico birder prepared me for the dazzling array of migratory warblers that I encountered on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh, located on the south shore of Lake Erie. I have been slow in getting blog posts together, in large part because I had such a wonderful time in Ohio that I arrived home totally exhausted. If you’re a birder, you MUST go to The Biggest Week. Kenn and Kim Kaufman and their dedicated team put on a wonderful event.
One of the warblers that I really enjoyed seeing was the Black-throated Green Warbler.
I am still going through my photos, and I will do several more posts on The Biggest Week. Be sure to check back.
From the first time that I heard of The Biggest Week in American Birding, a birding festival on the south shore of Lake Erie in Ohio, I wanted to go. I had planned to go last year, but professional obligations kept me from attending. This year I was determined to attend. I rented a little cottage right on Lake Erie very near Magee Marsh.
I arrived rather late on Saturday evening, and I was pleased to have dinner with birding friends Dawn and Jeff Fine and equally pleased to see and meet other old and new birding friends.
The next morning I woke up early and headed for Magee Marsh. I was looking forward to attending a photo workshop with Christopher Taylor. I had followed him on Twitter for four years. I am an admirer of his work, and I was anxious to meet him in person.
Our little group of eight photographers set out along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh, looking for warblers and other migrants.
There were many warblers in the trees, but many of them were in the shadows. This is a situation that I am not much accustomed to encountering in sunny New Mexico, and I struggled a bit to adjust my camera.
I seem to have a certain effect on birds when I attempt to photograph them.
This Palm Warbler was sitting prettily on a branch until I tried to photograph it.
We spent some time watching a Black-capped Chickadee feeding a fledgling still in the nest. Here is the nest, which was right on the boardwalk.
A highlight of the morning was seeing a pair of Great Horned Owlets that were almost ready to fledge.
Of course, being a handsome, successful photographer isn’t only endless birds and admiration. There can be fallout from standing under trees filled with warblers.
I am now four days into my personal Biggest Week. I have seen more warblers in three days than I have seen in my entire life, and I’ve even taken photos of some of them. My slow internet connection makes it difficult for me to do many blog posts, but they will come along in a few days. In the meantime, please enjoy Christopher Taylor’s beautiful photos here
This would normally be a Wordless Wednesday post. However, several weeks ago Roberta Beyer, owner of The Fat Finch, asked me to lead a photo workshop as an event for her wonderful birding store. I happily agreed, and I wondered if anyone would attend. The event proved popular far beyond our expectations. I recruited favorite birding friend Bosque Bill to assist me, and Roberta recruited two more photographers. Our little group met at The Fat Finch early this past Saturday morning. After a basic “How to operate your camera” talk by Bosque Bill we set off to photograph birds. Everyone had a wonderful time, and most participants learned how to move their cameras off of the automatic settings.
Here are some photos of birds that I took during the workshop:
It was a fine workshop put on by New Mexico’s best birding store. Be sure to visit The Fat Finch when you’re in the Albuquerque area!
I arrived at the refuge on Friday afternoon in time to take advantage of the beautiful late afternoon light. The first thing that I noticed was the new (to me) Joseph R. Skeen Visitor’s Center, which was completed in August 2006. The visitor’s center is located on a bluff that overlooks the refuge, and it has large windows and a deck that are designed to take advantage of the views.
The view from the deck is lovely!
I drove around to familiarize myself with the surroundings. The red bluffs to the west of the refuge are really beautiful.
There were hundred of Red-winged Blackbirds singing in the reeds and cattails at the edge of the lake.
Here is a short video of the birds:
As I listened to the Red-winged Blackbirds, I watched the sun setting over the lake.
The next morning I arrived at the refuge before sunrise to watch the fly-out. When I arrived, Snow Geese were flying over the visitor’s center.
I watched as waves of Snow Geese flew out to graze in the surrounding fields.
The Sandhill Cranes waited until a bit later to fly out.
I was able to get a few photos as they flew overhead.
I looked across the lake at the visitor’s center. From this angle you can really appreciate the lovely view from the large windows out over the lake.
There were many Buffleheads on the lake. I enjoyed watching them “run” along the lake surface as they took to the air.
A Northern Harrier hunted over a marshy area.
The weather, which had been lovely, began to get chilly, and I went into Roswell to meet friends for lunch. The weather improved later in the afternoon, and I returned to watch the evening fly-in. I was too early for the Sandhill Cranes, but large numbers of Snow Geese began to fly in.
As it grew darker, White-faced Ibis flew in as well.
This is a short video of the fly-in:
As I left Bitter Lake to have dinner with friends I stopped to watch the beautiful sunset. I have always thought that the sunsets in Roswell are extraordinary.
Although Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is not nearly as well known as Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico, it is a lovely area, and well worth visiting.