For any birder who arrived at the Magee Marsh boardwalk in northwest Ohio this month, a can’t miss May event for birders across the country to view the annual warbler arrival during spring migration, they might have been unexpectedly surprised by the signs and locked gate at the entrance and exit.
Due to the COVID pandemic, the boardwalk was restricted to people who pre-registered (no cost) to gain entrance.
Which was an improvement over 2020, when the boardwalk was closed to visitors.
In April 2021, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the boardwalk would be closed from April 17, 2021 to May 31, 2021 with restricted access available from 8:00am to noon daily, by pre-registration.
Birders were quick to register, the available slots sold out quickly.
However, as I learned this weekend, many people didn’t show for their selected times.
I met several birders who were able to gain access to the boardwalk by waiting at the entrance.
Half-hour past the registered time, volunteers at the entrance would allow a certain number of people to enter the boardwalk.
Sadly, I wasn’t one of them.
By the time I reached the boardwalk, it was early evening and the gates were locked.
Which didn’t keep birders away from the area.
There were plenty of warblers and other birds to see from the parking lot and along the road.
I managed to see my first Northern Parula for the year as well as my first Gray-cheeked Thrush.
When I checked the Ohio DNR website this morning, it seems the boardwalk registration may end tomorrow, May 17, 2021. The dates on the registration page have been changed to April 30, 2021 to May 17, 2021.
I’m wondering if last week’s U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommendations for no face covering/mask required for people outside may be the reason for the change in date.
And potentially removal of the restricted access to the boardwalk.