Birdwatching Notes - Sat, Apr 20, 2019

We visited multiple lakeshore areas today between approx 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

The weather was raw. Temps were in the low to mid 40s. Sky was overcast with low, heavy-hanging clouds. Rain fell at times, ranging in intensity from a drizzle to moderate. Rain moved east to west because of the low pressure system location. Winds blew at 10 to 20 mph from the east quadrant. A Lakeshore Flood Watch was upgraded to a Lakeshore Flood Warning.

Due to the east quadrant winds causing Lake Erie to pile up in the western basin, and due to significant rainfall that has occurred over the past two or three days, the streams, canals, and farm field drainage ditches were very high and out of their banks in areas.

Metzger Marsh was closed due to high water. The road next to the parking lot for the boat ramp was flooded, like it was last Sunday. This time, however, barrels resided on the road to block traffic.

We were not planning to go birdwatching today. It was more Deb's idea. Yesterday, a Common Loon was reported in the pond near the entrance to the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge's visitors center, and it was seen again this morning. Deb has been wanting to see a Common Loon this spring.

I last saw a loon in early May, seven to nine years ago, during a Biggest Week in American Birding field trip to Oak Openings Metropark. I drove the bus while Matt Anderson led the field trip. Besides the Metropark, we visited a couple other areas, including The Andersons farm. And we stopped at pond or quarry in the middle of a housing division to view a distant loon.

Today's ONWR loon, however, would provide a much closer look if it still existed. We had other things to do in the morning, such as shopping at the farmers market and Boochy Mama's in downtown Toledo, and viewing an old farmhouse with a realtor, near, Blissfield. It was a lot of driving around.

We had not planned to go birdwatching today because of the weather forecast. We planned to go birdwatching tomorrow, since the weather was forecast to be much nicer. But I'm glad that we went out today.

I bundled up with wool socks, flannel-lined jeans, long-sleeved cotton t-shirt, wool sweater, zip-up hooded sweatshirt jacket, my crocheted wool beanie cap, my crocheted alpaca cowl, and dark brown cotton gloves. I needed to add my wool winter coat, and I needed a layer of liner gloves under my cotton gloves, or I needed to use my bigger winter gloves.

After arriving at ONWR and checking the pond in front of the visitors center, all we saw were a couple cormorants. We drove around the parking lot and ONWR, returning to the pond, and we found the bird.

We watched the loon from 1:45 p.m. to 2:16 p.m. We stood outside our car, which was parked along the road that bordered the pond that hosted the loon. The pond is located across road from the ONWR visitors center. Damn convenient.

At one point, the loon was only about 40 feet from us. I have never been that close to a Common Loon. I forgot how large and thick that bird is, compared to mergansers and cormorants.

The loon would stay on the surface for only 10 to 20 seconds, at times under 10 seconds. It would stay under water for 30 to 40 seconds. Once it stayed under water for more than a minute.

It moved around the pond, mainly staying close to the edge. It was fun to watch.

While watching the loon, a Northern Harrier hunted near the pond. At one point when the loon was further away from us in the pond, and the harrier hunted over land behind the loon, we could see both birds in the same field of view through our binoculars.

Eventually, our glasses and binocs were heavily speckled from the drizzle. On the drive out, we were baffled what seemed like fog over the area. Technically, Lake Erie was slightly warmer than the air temps. Maybe that caused the fog-like conditions, or it was mainly due to the mist or drizzle being blown sideways. At least it was not longer pouring rain when we arrived at ONWR.

We parked at ONWR and went inside the visitors center to use the restroom, buy a chocolate bar, and to buy a couple things for Gabbie from their little store. We bought Gabbie Charlie Harper bird flash cards.

Then we drove around ONWR some more, and then we drove the Magee Marsh Causeway, and we visited the wet area, along Benton-Carroll road, looking for Snowy Egrets, but we did not see any. We observed other birds too.

We saw a female Common Merganser at Magee Marsh.

We drove Stagne and Krauss roads, looking for American Pipits, which like to forage on muddy farm fields, but we didn't see any pipits. A lot of muddy fields exist now, which would require a lot of searching.

Next, we drove around at Howard Marsh, and we watched three Horned Grebes that hung out next to the boat ramp, near the restrooms. I was surprised to see Horned Grebes this late, but after checking a couple Toledo bird books, it's not that unusual. Two of the grebes were in breeding plumage while one was still in winter plumage.

The breeding plumage Horned Grebes contain the colors of warm rusty brown on the neck and sides of the body, medium to dark grey on the back of the body, charcoal grey to black on the sides of the head, and beige-yellow "horns" on the top sides of the head that flutter in the wind. The eyes or eye areas looked like scarlet red. The winter plumage bird contained mainly shades of grey.

We saw several duck species at Howard Marsh, which has become one of the birdwatching gems of northwest Ohio, and this is only the second year of existence for Howard Marsh.

We drove around Maumee Bay State Park too. We saw a late Redhead Duck, hanging with Lesser Scaup.

For not birdwatching today, we did pretty good, despite the breezy, rainy, misty, foggy, and cold weather, which obviously, does not bother loons, ducks, geese, grebes, egrets, and herons. Most of our birdwatching was done from the car, since we were looking at those water-related birds.

We planned to go birdwatching tomorrow, but I'm guessing that little songbird movement will occur tonight due to the weather. Going to the Magee Marsh boardwalk tomorrow might be pointless.

Friends spotted a Yellow-throated Warbler a few days ago at Swan Creek. It's possible that the bird could try to nest at Swan Creek, since it contains several sycamore trees in the low area long the creek. With the recent rains, that area could be inaccessible on Sunday. I could visit nearby Ottawa Park briefly.

Here are most of the birds that we observed today along the lakeshore:


Short-term weather forecast as of this morning:

Today: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 1pm, then showers likely. High near 45. North wind 11 to 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.

Tonight: A chance of showers, mainly before 8pm. Cloudy, with a low around 40. North wind 5 to 7 mph becoming calm in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 65. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Toledo Express Airport (KTOL)
Apr 20, 2019 8:52 am EDT
Weather : Light Rain
Temperature : 42 F
Humidity : 82%
Wind Speed : NE 13 mph
Barometer : 29.61 in
Dewpoint: 37 F
Visibility : 8.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 35 F

Toledo Executive Airport (KTDZ)
Apr 20, 2019 8:53 am EDT
Weather : Light Rain Fog/Mist
Temperature : 42 F
Humidity : 89%
Wind Speed : NE 14 mph
Wind Gust 22 mph
Barometer : 29.62 in
Dewpoint: 39 F
Visibility : 3.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 35 F

Toledo Suburban Airport (KDUH)
Apr 20, 2019 8:56 am EDT
Weather : Overcast
Temperature : 40 F
Humidity : 92%
Wind Speed : NNE 8 mph
Wind Gust 21 mph
Barometer : 29.60 in
Dewpoint: 38 F
Visibility : 10.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 35 F

Toledo Express Airport (KTOL)
Apr 20, 2019 4:52 pm EDT
Weather : Overcast
Temperature : 44 F
Humidity : 86%
Wind Speed : N 9 mph
Barometer : 29.70 in
Dewpoint: 40 F
Visibility : 10.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 39 F

Toledo Executive Airport (KTDZ)
Apr 20, 2019 4:53 pm EDT
Weather : Overcast
Temperature : 44 F
Humidity : 89%
Wind Speed : NNE 9 mph
Barometer : 29.71 in
Dewpoint: 41 F
Visibility : 10.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 39 F

Toledo Suburban Airport (KDUH)
Apr 20, 2019 5:35 pm EDT
Weather : Overcast
Temperature : 43 F
Humidity : 96%
Wind Speed : N 5 mph
Barometer : 29.71 in
Dewpoint: 42 F
Visibility : 7.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 40 F