#biggestweek Kirtland’s Warber

Kirtland’s Warbler: Magee Marsh Boardwalk, Oak Harbor, Ohio, USA, May 2022 — I reached the west end of the boardwalk at Magee Marsh yesterday morning just in time to meet a solid stream of people coming off in a hurry. A Kirtland’s Warbler had been spotted and was showing well at the west end of the beach where Crane Creek comes in to Erie, along what is called the Estuary Trail. I posed a photo yesterday of the crowd streaming down the beach and assembling in the sand looking into the trees. By the time I got there the warbler had last been seen about 10 minutes before, and as far as I know, did not show itself again. Lots of people, though, got good looks and great photos. Kirtland’s is the rarest warbler in North America with a highly restricted breeding habitat in the young Jack Pine forests mostly of upper Michigan. The trees have to be a certain narrow range of heights. They also have a narrow migration corridor though the US. Seeing one at The Biggest Week here in Ohio will always cause major stir. I went on around the Estuary Trail to check the backside of the little band of woods…but no one was seeing it there, and many others had the same idea. I got back to the boardwalk to hear reports of one right on the boardwalk…just past here the tower stood until it went down in last August’s micro-burst. So I tried again…but, of course, got there moments after it was last seen moving east further along the boardwalk and never seen again. This is why I do not normally chase rare birds. 🙂 I am just not very good at it. So, I went off to do my 7 Fold Path to Better Birding presentation at Ottawa NWR fresh of defeat. As it happens, though, I came back to the boardwalk latter in the afternoon and had a great time with a very cooperative Prothonotary Warbler hunting along the shore of the pond and then helping people to find a Whippoorwill (I was not the first to find it, but it takes some finding even when you have already seen it, and others needed help.) As I moved on down the boardwalk I mentioned to a few other birders that there was a whippoorwill ahead in case they were interested. About the 3rd such group, just looked at me, as they say, glassy eyed, and one of them, said “well yes, but there is Kirtland’s Warbler right overhead here.” “What? Where?” And there was, relatively high in what remains of the Magee Marsh canopy, flitting among the leaves. I took a lot of photos…a few of which came out well enough to recognize the bird. The few other birders there took phone photos of the back of my camera to have proof that they had really seen the Kirtland’s. They evidently have the kind of birder friends who would not believe such a story without proof. Seeing a Kirtland’s that way, with just a few others, in a random sighting…not chasing anything…that is the way I like it. Of course once word got down the boardwalk (which I helped to do), the chase was on again, but the bird was not seen again. That is birding life the way it supposed to be…or at least the way it is. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. (Cropped to maybe 2500mm framing and enlarged in Pixelmator Photo using the Machine Learning Max Resolution.) Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/640th and 1/1000th. Plus 1 EV for backlight.

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