Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Botany = Birds

Continuing the tale of Separate Shores...

Kelleys Island's scenic shore of Long Point and the Jones Preserve have a similar feel to parts of Magee's boardwalk area. Large trees provide a canopy for a shrubby undergrowth. This path has consistently provided good looks at many warblers and ground loving thrushes. by Laurie Boylan

A rock wall parallels Erie's shore, marking the perfect location for a soothing sounds recording: waves gently lapping the shore play counter-bass to the susurrus of overhead leaves, teased by coastal breeze. An enchanted place which once held a myriad of spring flowers is now overrun with the invasive Wild Chervil, Anthriscus sylvestris. It looks much like a minature Poison Hemlock, as both are in the Apiaceae, or carrot family. Barely known in Ohio, it is considered an invasive in many other states and ironically, on another island: Iceland.

AND NOW our story continues to a distant shore: a beach habitat of sparse scrubby brush, beaten back by sand and wave. As our group toured Kelleys Island, the Twitter report came across the waves of a major sighting at Magee. Witness how botany can come to play in birding:

Just as it had been predicted earlier in the week, this sandy beach with low scrubby vegetation would provide the best habitat for a Kirtland's Warbler. The Twitter report had confirmed a "K-Bird" was found by Kenn Kaufman, along this no-man's land.
The question was, would we be able to return from Kelleys in time to see it!

Exactly 32 minutes from our Kelleys Island ferry docking in Marblehead, Ohio- the first of our tour group ran across the Magee/Crane Creek sands at break-neck speeds. And as one might imagine, we had little trouble locating the bird, with a little help from the paparazzi!

The "biggest" bird- during the entire Biggest Week In American Birding: Kirtland's Warbler. Bird wise it is not so huge, but it is a fine, strapping specimen for a warbler. Not only was this bird kind enough to stop by Magee on its way to the Jack Pines stands of Michigan, he was also in beautiful breeding plumage and quite willing to strut his stuff and sing a bit for the masses.
Those of us who witnessed this incredible find felt blessed just to be in the presence of such an uncommon bird. Unfortunately, it was a one-day-wonder, and was gone before the next sunrise hit these shores.
My thanks to all the good folks at Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Ohio Division of Wildlife and all the other partners who hosted the BWIAB.

Special thanks to Kenn for sharing the bird we viewed with the wide-eyed with excitement of children! And a big hug of thanks to Kim for allowing me to drive "her bus" and share my excitement for wonderful birds and botany with so many new birding friends.


  1. Miss Cheryl,

    Thank you SO much for all of your marvelous help during the Biggest Week. Thank goodness the special arrangement I made with the Bird Gods worked out and the Kirtland's I ordered arrived on time. ; ) I'm so gald that you got to see him.

    Oh, and you can drive "my bus" anytime!

    HUGE thanks!!


  2. Hey Kimmer-

    My pleasure! Ask me anytime to hang out with great birders, travel to fun locations, and get to share my love of nature. We had people from ALL over the country on our trips- and it was a joy to show them "my backyard" and old stomping grounds.