Dan Gomola Wildlife Photography | Birding Ohio’s Crane Creek - Magee Region Day 2

Birding Ohio’s Crane Creek - Magee Region Day 2

July 05, 2016  •  1 Comment

Continued from "Birding Ohio’s Crane Creek - Magee Region Day 1".

Saturday morning came slowly as I kept waking up wondering if it was time to get up yet.  Finally, morning came and I woke to a downpour.  No worries, I had my rain gear and hoped the cold front kept the birds grounded.  I was just a little concerned about the light but I had my Canon 580 EXII flash fitted with a Better Beamer to extend and narrow the light beam.  It was actually exciting because the rain and wind might bring some birds closer to the ground providing better viewing.

I was at Magee Marsh by 7:00 on that chilly, wet morning.  Forecast called for 20 mph wind and temperatures in the low 50's so I doubled up on my clothing.  Before entering the boardwalk, I decided to take a walk to the beach area that connects Magee and Ottawa.  The wind was very strong so the likelihood of finding many birds along the beach was slim.  Many birds will actually go ¼ to ½ mile inland when winds pick up.

Lake Erie Shoreline @ Magee MarshLake Erie Shoreline @ Magee MarshOak Harbor, OH


With no promise of seeing birds on the beach, I headed into the west entrance of the boardwalk.  Here is a word of caution: If you go, beware of a wet boardwalk.  You need to walk like you are on an ice rink.  I saw a few people fall on their behinds.  The rain stopped soon after I arrived at Magee and the sun even peaked out a few times during the day.  It even rained with sunshine a few times, keeping the boardwalk wet most of the day.

Even in cool weather, the month of May means a lot of people visit this area.  Don’t worry though, no matter how crowded it gets, everyone is there for the same reason so be kind and take your turn checking out the birds.

Magee Marsh BoardwalkMagee Marsh BoardwalkOak Harbor, OH, May, 2016


A Prothonotary Warbler pair are using a nesting box in the swamp.  I managed to get a few shots of the female Prothonotary Warbler.

Prothonotary WarblerProthonotary WarblerFemale


The male Wilson's Warbler has an unmistakable black cap.

Wilson's WarblerWilson's WarblerMale


On this day, the Scarlet Tanagers were having a blast chasing down little insects in the tall trees.  Very few came low enough or close enough but I managed to get a few long distance shots.

Scarlet TanagerScarlet TanagerMale


I broke for lunch about noon and met up in the parking lot with a good friend, Dean Williams and his brother-in-law Shawn, who were camping nearby.  We sat between vehicles to stay out of the cold wind and swapped birding stories.  That was a nice break for lunch but we didn't drive all that way to chat in the parking lot so we cleaned up and went our separate ways.

Back on the Magee Marsh boardwalk, when a rare species is spotted, a large crowd will gather very quickly.  When you find a group of people, they are always happy to tell you what they are watching.  I'm not trying to be funny but sometimes I've seen large crowds like this for birds that I see or hear almost daily, like a Common Yellowthroat.  People from all over the country converge here in May of each year so you have to imagine there are some who don't get to see very many birds, except pigeons.

Magee Marsh BoardwalkMagee Marsh BoardwalkOak Harbor, OH, May, 2016


I was watching a section of the marsh while a male American Redstart was flitting around looking for insects.  He gave me a few good views.

American RedstartAmerican RedstartMale


Nearby, but further away, was a female American Redstart.  By the way, if you go to Magee Marsh in the middle of May, you will see a lot of American Redstarts.  Although the lighting wasn't the best, this female redstart gave me a nice pose.

American RedstartAmerican RedstartFemale


I learned something on this day.  I saw this next bird moving about the trees and shrubs and I brushed it off as a female redstart.  As somebody walked up and asked me what I was seeing, I told them a female American Redstart.  A birder was standing nearby and pointed out the black marking under this birds chin which indicates it is a first year (hatched last spring) male redstart.  There is so much to learn about our wonderful world of birds.

American RedstartAmerican Redstart1st Year Male


This is the only photo I got of a Bay-breasted Warbler this year.  It was perched high with a bright sky behind.  I was using flash so with that extra light and a little work in Photoshop, I was able to bring out the details.  It's shots like these that make me realize my Photoshop skills need improvement.

Bay-breasted WarblerBay-breasted WarblerMale


The Magnolia Warblers really put on a show this day.  Sometimes they came so close the camera couldn't focus so I had to wait until they moved away from me.

Magnolia WarblerMagnolia WarblerMale


This next bird I did not find alone.  I wandered up on a group of people crawling on their hands and knees along the boardwalk, looking at something on the ground.  As I approached from behind I saw it.  A Whip-poor-will!  What a cool find; I had to make a portrait.  Next thing you know I'm laying on my belly to get a clear view of the Whip-poor-will.  This is one portrait that I didn't mind the eyes being closed.

Eastern Whip-poor-willEastern Whip-poor-will


One thing I have to say about the people at Magee Marsh; they are very helpful.  Many want to talk to me about photography.  Some admire my equipment and many make it a point to come find me after they've seen something special.  One lady tracked me down to tell me a Black-throated Blue Warbler has been seen and told me where to find it.  He hopped around inside the thicker vegetation, stopping occasionally to sing for us.  This was the best shot he gave to me.


Black-throated Blue WarblerBlack-throated Blue WarblerMale


Clouds rolled in again about 3:00 on this chilly afternoon and birdwatchers were still searching for warblers along the boardwalk.

Magee Marsh BoardwalkMagee Marsh BoardwalkOak Harbor, OH, May, 2016


I left Magee Marsh about 4:30 that afternoon in order to be on time for our dinner plans.  On my way back to my neice's home in Oregon, I drove into an area called Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area.  I photographed a Mink there a couple years ago and, since it was late in the day, I hoped I might see another.  I didn't see a Mink this day but I did photograph this Great Blue Heron, clinging onto some low shrubs, while watching for fish in the fast moving water.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron


That evening after dinner, I paged through some of the photos I got on this second day and shared the good ones with everyone.  Sunday was going to be our final day in northern Ohio and there was a few species of warblers that I wanted to improve upon my photos.  I was pretty tired this night so even with all the photography thoughts going through my head, there was a good chance I would be getting a good night's sleep.

I hope you enjoyed day 2 of this visit to northern Ohio's birding country.  You can go straight to my final blog of this visit here: "Birding Ohio’s Crane Creek - Magee Region Day 3".

If you happened to find this blog post and missed the first one, you can find it at:

Birding Ohio’s Crane Creek - Magee Region Day 1



Willard Hill(non-registered)
I enjoyed this series very much. Excellent photos and story.
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