Tag Archives: Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

Spring Fancy–The Biggest Week in American Birding

Alfred Lord Tennyson said in Locksley Hall that “In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove; In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” For birders, in the spring, a birder’s fancy lightly (or not so lightly!) turns to thoughts of migration. As I sit in an airport writing this I am en route to the South Shore of Lake Erie for Spring migration. Visions of beautiful warblers that I have seen in previous years are, quite literally, dancing–as well as flying and chirping–in my head. Who wouldn’t become almost delirious at the thought of seeing these beauties?

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler.

The Biggest Week in American Birding

Northern Parula

The Biggest Week in American Birding

Nashville Warbler

The Biggest Week in American Birding

Blackburnian Warbler

The only thing better than seeing the birds is seeing all my wonderful birder friends. I just can’t wait!

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May 7, 2015 · 9:27 am

A Handsome Bird at The Biggest Week

As I went about reviewing and organizing my photos from The Biggest Week in American Birding, I realized that I neglected to mention one of the stars, for me, of The Biggest Week. One evening as I was returning from Magee Marsh, I came upon a very beautiful Trumpeter Swan on the levee road. Unlike my usual experience with swans, mostly involving distant observations, this one was right next to the road, and he proceeded to put on a show for an admiring audience. Here are some of my favorite photos:

The Biggest Week in American Birding

The Biggest Week in American Birding

The Biggest Week in American Birding

The Biggest Week in American Birding

The Biggest Week in American Birding

The Biggest Week in American Birding

The Biggest Week in Amercan Birding

The Biggest Week in American Birding

Here is a short video of the swan. What a show off!

Note: The heads and necks of Trumpeter Swans are often stained a rusty color from contact with ferrous minerals in the soils of wetland bottoms during feeding.

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American Woodcocks at The Biggest Week

One of the highlights for me of The Biggest Week in American Birding was coming across a nest of newly hatched American Woodcocks near the parking lot at Magee Marsh. Fellow New Mexican Donna Madrid-Simonetti and I stayed well back from the birds and photographed them with our 400 mm lenses.

When we first saw them, they were snuggled up under a log. This photo is heavily cropped, as we did not want to disturb them.

Magee Marsh, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

American Woodhen and chicks.

There was caution tape around the area where the birds were sheltering, and birders and photographers kept a respectful distance as we admired the Woodhen and her fuzzy chicks.

Not far away I found the empty eggshells. The tiny chicks had hatched only that morning. The nest where the Woodhen had incubated her eggs was little more than a slight depression in the leaves, and the eggs had blended in perfectly with the detritus on the forest floor.

Magee Marsh, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

American Woodcock eggshells

I left the area to do some birding elsewhere. When I came back later that day, the little family was out for a stroll.

The Biggest Week in American Birding

Out for a stroll

I was backing up as I took this photo.

The Biggest Week in American Birding

They started to walk straight toward me.

I had stayed far back from the birds. These images were taken with a 400 mm lens, and they are heavily cropped. But at this point, quite a few people started crowding around the poor Woodhen and her chicks. People were thrusting point and shoot cameras and cell phone cameras right in their faces. The chicks became confused, and the mother Woodhen became distressed. Concerned birders started trying to move people away from the birds, but the babies became scattered. Finally, the babies were coaxed back to the mother and people backed away from the birds. The whole episode was distressing to watch.

Kim Claire Smith wrote about a similar situation with a Kirtland’s Warbler on her blog here. These situations highlight how important it is to be respectful of wildlife, particularly when they are taking care of their young. No photo is worth causing the stress to birds that I observed in this instance.

I am happy to say that the next morning it was reported that the American Woodcock family had crossed the parking lot and was safely in the woods. Here is a video that I took of them before the crowds of people descended. Please note that this small group of birders was far back from the birds. You can see how close the birds were to the parking lot.

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Filed under Ohio bird photography, The Biggest Week in American Birding