Photographing Birds at Magee Marsh (Nikon Coolpix p900)


Palm Warbler at East End of the Boardwalk (p900)
Palm Warbler at Magee Marsh (Nancie Waterman/Nikon Coolpix p900)

In May, Jim and I took our birding on the road to go to “The Biggest Week in American Birding” festival and to see the warblers at Magee Marsh near Lake Erie in Ohio. We spent a solid week birding at the marsh and around the area and loved the adventure. During our time there, we saw 101 species of birds and added 27 to our birding life list. Along the way, we photographed some of these birds, me with a point-and-shoot Nikon Coolpix p900 zoom lens camera and Jim using a DSLR Canon 7d Mark II with a 400mm lens. In this post, I will share pictures of some of these cool birds, taken mostly with the Nikon, but with a few from the Canon so you can compare the results when two people using two different cameras photograph birds under the same conditions.

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Our First Trip to Magee Marsh

Magee Marsh East Entrance Sign
The East Entrance to Magee Marsh

Each May, northern Ohio’s Magee Marsh is a magnet for birders who want to see a wide number of warblers and other migrants up close. The local Ohio birders make the trip even more worthwhile by throwing The Biggest Week in American Birding festival during the height of warbler migration, with all kinds of activities held at birding hotspots throughout the area. If you are a birder, it really is an awesome adventure.

This year’s festival ran from May 5 through May 14. Jim and I traveled from Maryland to bird the area from May 6 until May 12. It was our first trip there. We saw so much and learned so much and got to see one hundred and one bird species (sixteen of them warblers.) We added twenty-seven new birds to our life list, including five warblers we had never before seen.

This post is an account of what the experience was like for us as first-time visitors to the marsh and the festival, including some of the logistics of staying in the area and visiting the marsh and other local birding hotspots. I’m also working on a companion post with additional photos of the birds we saw that will touch on what we learned in trying to photograph them.

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Birding at Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

An Osprey Enjoying Sushi
An Osprey Enjoying Sushi

Saturday morning started chilly but clear. The weather folks promised 66 degrees, so Jim and I bundled up in layers and headed over the Bay Bridge to spend the day at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Horsehead Maryland. We saw some cool stuff (including forty-five bird species!) Here are some highlights in pictures and stories.

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Finding a Brown-Headed Nuthatch

Brown-Headed Nuthatch
Brown-Headed Nuthatch

This past weekend, Jim and I went in search of a Brown-Headed Nuthatch. Now, if you live in the southeastern US, you might be thinking, “Ho, hum. I see those all the time. What’s the big deal?” But here in central Maryland, it is not a nuthatch we see often. They don’t stop by our house and aren’t usually found in our local woods, so we had to go just a little further afield to find one.

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Snow Buntings Visit Baltimore

Snow Bunting
Snow Bunting

Maryland birders have been excited about Snow Buntings for the past week or so. They are not frequent visitors to our area, so when someone spotted four Snow Buntings along the pier at North Point State Park east of Baltimore, local birders began visiting the park in a steady stream to get a look at them.

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Another Weekend Birding at Patuxent’s North Tract

A Wet Day at Lake Allen
A Wet Day at Lake Allen at Patuxent Research Refuge

This weekend we wound up spending a good chunk of Saturday and Sunday birding at Patuxent Research Refuge North Tract. Neither day turned out as we had hoped or expected, but we still saw something to excite us each day. It’s just that kind of place . . .

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Birding at Patuxent Research Refuge North Tract

Killdeer on Merganser Pond
Killdeer on One of the Little Islands on Merganser Pond

Over the past year, Jim and I have been gradually exploring birding spots in central Maryland where we live. Birds can of course be found just about anywhere, including your backyard, roadsides and area parking lots. But birds need food, cover, places to nest and water, so spots where these needs are met in abundance are going to be hot spots where you are likely to find more birds. In my immediate area, one of the best spots for finding birds is Patuxent Research Refuge which straddles Anne Arundel and Prince Georges Counties (just about mid-way between DC and Baltimore.) If you live in this area or are visiting and want to get in some birding, it is a great place to try.

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