Woodchuck in Wood

Ten Avid Birders ventured up to Lake Erie in search of birds, any birds.

Woodchuck in WoodThe causeway at Magee yielded a half dozen Sandhill Cranes, calling and feeding in the fields,  and a couple Trumpeter Swans. We searched the Boardwalk and were rewarded with eight different warbler species. Bay-breasted Warblers and Blackpolls predominated, testing our identification skills on “Selected Fall Warblers (with and without streaks and wing bars)” as Peterson now classifies the previously-named “Confusing Fall Warblers.” (Charlie Bombaci is correct in noting the warblers were never confused, it was the birders who were confused.) Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were bulking up on nectar in preparation for the long journey to Panama and Mexico. We were entertained by a young ground hog perched about 15 feet up in a small tree.

DragonflyIt seemed like there were not a lot of birds for such an early morning walk, especially during migration, so we decided to try the estuary trail and found ourselves admiring the dragonflies. The mouth of the river held a few ducks and shorebirds including a Marbled Godwit and Short-billed Dowitcher.

We enjoyed our lunches on this beautiful fall day behind the Ottawa Visitors center. Purists can argue that fall wasn’t official for two more days, but the morning was cool and we noted the leaves on the trees starting to turn red and yellow. Meanwhile, predicted rain never materialized.  We drove the loop of the auto tour due, but it was a relatively quick due to minimal shorebird habitat. The ducks were reappearing, though: we had Northern Pintail, Gadwall, American Wigeon and both Blue- and Green-winged Teal. We enjoyed  a juvenile  Common Gallinule, Pied-billed Grebes, and Double-crested Cormorants (AKA double chocolate corms).

White PelicansA report of 70 American White Pelicans lured us to the East Harbor State Park Beach area.  We were able to observe 50 to 60 pelicans feeding together in a large group with their impressive bills churning up the water searching for food. A Caspian Tern flew by and a Northern Shoveler was just a few feet away from us, as we tried in vain to get an accurate count of the pelicans.

Our birding day ended with a walk at Sheldon Marsh. The day’s theme of very few birds continued. We saw a few warblers on the forest edges, Northern Flickers, Wood Ducks in the wetland ponds and people on the beach.

We joined 5 other birders who were staying overnight in the area in preparation for Jen Brumfield’s pelagic trip in the morning for dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Huron. Delicious food and fellowship was enjoyed by all. Two birders returned to Columbus and the rest of us retired to the hotel, dreaming about the Sabine’s Gulls and Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaegers we would see in the morning (if we didn’t get seasick).

Although the quantity of birds was low, the variety was good. Our 73 species for the day are listed below. You can see more photos from the trip on Flickr.

Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Common Moorhen
Sandhill Crane
Spotted Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Marbled Godwit
Short-billed Dowitcher
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Caspian Tern
Common Tern
Forster’s Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Empidonax ssp.
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Swainson’s Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-White Warbler
American Redstart
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow