May 22, 2019
A month ago Mel and I went to a Woodpecker Festival in Middleville, Michigan, where we met lots of birdy people like ourselves. When we had lunch with a couple of those folks, they told us about a wonderful birding place in Ohio called Magee Marsh (https://www.mageemarsh.org/).
“Magee Marsh, situated on the southern shore of Lake Erie, is a prime stopover for North American warblers during spring migration. Every year thousands of birders, photographers, and nature lovers flock to this location in spring to witness the unforgettable spectacle of large songbird concentrations preparing to migrate across the great lake toward their breeding grounds in the north. Magee Marsh is just one of those special places that you have to come back to year after year.”
As soon as we got home from the Woodpecker Fest, we checked our calendars and booked a room for four days in May at the Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center in Oregon, Ohio– which was also recommended to us by our bird people (https://www.maumeebaylodge.com/). It looked kind of fancy and expensive but the non-weekend, off season rate for old people (aka Senior Citizens) was perfect! And, it was only 2 ½ hours from home!
As soon as we arrived yesterday at 1:00, Mel and I headed straight for the marsh because we basically had to ‘make hay while the sun shines’. The weather was expected to be intermittently rainy for the duration of our stay and, since it wasn’t currently raining, we hurried down the road about ten miles to the marsh before something changed!
Luckily, it never rained yesterday. Today, however, it’s raining cats and dogs and I am patiently (or maybe not so patiently) waiting for it to stop so we can go back to Magee.
We spent almost four hours yesterday wandering the beautiful Magee Marsh boardwalk– snapping pictures all the while! The nearby trees and bushes were just teeming with birds, mostly warblers, that were singing and chirping and flitting this way and that in their quest for food or nesting materials or love. And, even though the birds were plentiful and near at hand, they were hard to capture. Small birds are constantly on the move! I’d no sooner locate one and they’d be gone! Or, I’d snap a picture and they’d be gone between the instant I’d pressed the shutter and the camera took the picture. They’re that fast!
Walking through the marsh was a magical experience! Most birders are reverentially quiet as they walk silently among the trees hoping not to scare the birds and speaking in whispers to fellow birders. It’s almost like being in a church. Many of us were in awe of all the different birds flitting around and I was equally thrilled with all the new birds I saw— like the Magnolia Warbler, the Blackburnian Warbler, the Blackpoll Warbler and the Canada Warbler! Some birds I’d never even heard of before, like the Bay-breasted Warbler and the Chestnut-sided Warbler. Mel also caught a Prothonotary Warbler, which I’ve only seen once before! It was an very exciting day!
I almost forgot to mention how weird it felt to be among ‘my own kind’! Most of the time when I’m out taking pictures, people stare at me or make comments about the size of my lens! At Magee Marsh, virtually everyone had a long lens. Some people even had super-ginormous lenses with flash extenders mounted on a monopods! I was no longer self-conscious about my comparatively small equipment– that is, until someone, who thought I knew that I was doing with my long lens, would ask me, “What bird is that you’re shooting?” and I’d very self-consciously reply, “I have no idea!”