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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spring at Lake St. Clair Metropark: Warblers and Flycatchers featuring Common Yellowthroat, Tennessee Warbler, Wilson's Warbler and Eastern Wood Pewee

[Lake St. Clair Metropark, MI. May 2014]

The South shore of Lake Erie may be the best known migration hotspot but it isn't the only one in the Great Lakes region. A much smaller lake (in comparison to Lake Erie but still huge in absolute terms), Lake St. Clair can also be productive in migration.

A May walk through woodland and shrub habitat at Lake St. Clair Metropark yielded a fine assortment of species:
  1. Tennessee Warbler
  2. Common Yellowthroat
  3. Yellow Warbler
  4. American Redstart
  5. Wilson's Warbler
  6. Northern Waterthrush
  7. Northern Parula
  8. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  9. Canada Warbler
  10. Magnolia Warbler
  11. Eastern Wood Pewee
  12. Eastern Kingbird
First, Tennessee Warbler:


A drab looking warbler, the Tennessee is sometimes confused with the Red-eyed Vireo; however, closer inspection draws out a couple of key differences: the obvious first is the red-eye; next, the bill of the vireo is longer and the cap and eye-stripe are darker. Finally, the vireo has a much more prominent (thicker and longer) white supercilium.

Common Yellowthroat, unless singing on territory, is a skulking and seldom seen warbler:

Seen near the "Owl Habitat" trail (where nesting Great Horned Owls are observed every year), this individual stayed hidden in tangles displaying a stubborn reluctance in giving unobstructed views. However, when it finally did, the black mask, yellow breast, grey headband and pink legs all prove to make this an unforgettably brilliant warbler:

Unlike the Common Yellowthroat, one warbler that is never shy nor hidden is the ubiquitous Yellow Warbler:

Yellow Warbler is a breeder here; unlike the American Redstart which is in passage and quite conspicuous:

Much more difficult to see, on the other hand, was this Northern Waterthrush:

Wilson's Warbler was a nice find:

While Wilson's showed well, also observed, though distantly, were Chestnut-sided, Canada, Magnolia and Northern Parula as seen in the following composite:

Chestnut-sided, Canada, Northern Parula and Magnolia seen at Lake St. Clair

A testament to the birding productivity at this venue, a total of ten warbler species were thus observed in a morning's walk

On the flycatcher front,  Eastern Wood Pewee was a nice find:

A common bird of Eastern forests, the Eastern Wood-Pewee has an impressive population of 5.5 million although the population trend is negative.

Finally, also seen was a pair of Eastern Kingbirds with their massive bills, imposing size and contrasting color scheme.

As these photos attest, Lake St. Clair Metropark always has something to offer, and never more so when species diversity is at its peak -- in migration.

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