White-winged Scoter - Photo Lori Brumbaugh

From Donna Kuhn: For the first time only females participated in the Central Ohio Avid Birders field trip. We had nice weather, for February, with temperatures in the low 30s all day, light winds and no precipitation until we were on our way back to Columbus.

Ignoring the advice of several who had birded the Cuyahoga River the day before, we started our day at the Jefferson Avenue dead end, site of the infamous 1969 river fire. A spark from a train ignited oil soaked debris on the river causing damage to 2 bridges. This incident ignited the environmental movement to clean up polluted rivers across the country. This area now hosts a variety of fish and birds. We saw a siege of Great Blue Herons, and a variety of ducks, including Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks, Bufflehead, Redhead and Lesser Scaup.

Next stop, Rivergate Park on Merwin Ave, in the area now known as the Flats, which is a revitalized industrial area along the river. Another siege, 17 in all, of Black-crowned Night-Herons dotted the shoreline. A pair of Wood Ducks and a raft of Mallards joined a single Lesser Scaup on the water. A Northern Mockingbird was hanging out with the House Sparrows on the dumpster.

We headed to the highly recommended Wendy Park, coast Guard Station. Here we observed a huge amount of debris at the mouth of the river, mostly branches with some plastics thrown in and surrounding ice. A smorgasbord of dead fish attracted lots of gulls, mostly Ring-billed and Herring. One immature Iceland Gull was on the edge of the ice. It flew toward us allowing close observation of its all white wings, mottled body and dark bill.

We headed for Sims Park, a frequent spot for Scoters, but it was iced over with just a few gulls, including a Lesser Black-backed. A Facebook report that the White-winged Scoter had been relocated off Jefferson Road, led to the decision to return and try again. We were not disappointed. The duck was on the river, flapped its wings revealing nice white patches. We now had Bufflehead and Redheads as well.

We took a hike through Chagrin River Park where a Red Crossbill was reported 3 days ago, but failed to relocate the bird. We say a variety of woodland birds, including Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadees and White-throated Sparrows.

We were also unsuccessful in our quest for Fish Crows in Shaker Heights and Garfield Commons. With reports of snow starting, we decided to head for home.

We finished the day with 38 species.

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Lesser Scaup
White-winged Scoter
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
House Sparrow