Editor’s note: We have no pictures from this trip, as our best photographers (Andy and Lisa) were not along and everyone else was too busy watching the birds.
Somehow 5:00 in the (barely) morning seems so much earlier than our usual 5:30 meeting time. Despite no reported sightings in the past two days for the ABA Code 4 (translation: mega rarity) Kelp Gull, we decided to take a chance. Reports of a larger number of gulls coming onto Springfield Lake the previous night encouraged us.
We arrived at the Akron location before first light and peered into the darkness trying to see where the gulls were resting. Several dozen birders were already there with scopes and cameras set up and ready. The wife of one of our members had baked him a cake with an outline of the gull, which he said has always enabled him to see rare birds. Another birder had traveled from New Jersey just to see this bird. As the sky began to lighten, large groups of gulls were becoming visible. Diligent searching finally rewarded us as a very dark black backed gull! When it flapped its wings several times there was no doubt this was no ordinary gull, as the underwing pattern matched the National Geographic Field Guide picture of the Kelp Gull. The gull flew off, but not before giving us pretty decent looks. Since we were there, we studied the other birds on the lake and refound the Glaucous Gull among the Ring billed and Herring Gulls. A common Loon was diving.
The sun was now up, so we headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for celebratory coffee and pastries. But not for long: other birds beckoned. We headed for Fairport Harbor, relocating the Little Gull, but we were unable to find the Snowy Owl reported earlier in the week. There were several Lesser Blacked-backed Gulls on the break wall.
We decided to go to Sim’s Park next, hoping the King Eider might reappear, but those hopes were dashed. Common Goldeneyes and Horned Grebes were floating on the water, but not much else. We then traveled on Whiskey Island/Wendy Park. The breakwall was jamming with Double Crested Cormorants and Ring-billed Gulls, but nothing unusual was out there. The Snowy Owl, sadly, was MIA.
The Black-legged Kittiwake continued in Wood County, so being Avids, we elected to drive another 2 hours to Mary Jane Thurston State Park. On arrival, the bird of our desire was floating on the river in front of a large group of gulls! We were able to view it in our scopes before it flew off.
We returned to Worthington about 5:30 pm, having driven nearly 500 miles. A long day, but great birds, great people, and great fun!
Here’s our species list for the day:
Great Blue Heron
Great Black-backed Gull