Red Phalerope (Photo Bruce Satta)

With the weather prognosticators discussing Polar Vortexes and White Death, the Avids November planners decided to check out areas west of Cleveland. So we left Worthington with its colder than normal temperatures in the 20s and headed to Huron. We did not see any snow on the drive.

Several of us were able to see the immature Harris’s Sparrow reported the day before after an extensive search in the thick shrubby growth along the wall leading to the lighthouse. American Tree Sparrows joined the Harris’s, as well as Field and Song Sparrows. Initially we were fooled by an arrangement of over 50 decoys which looked like Canada Geese, Mallards, Northern Pintails — but then the giveaway: a hunter in waders standing nearby and not flushing the fake flock.

Red Phalerope (Photo Bruce Satta)The previously-reported Red Phalarope was hanging out on the shore by the beach along with a Dunlin and Ring-BIlled Gulls, entertaining us with its constant motion and swimming in endless circles. We watched Bonaparte’s Gulls and the Phalarope from a bench in front of a rose garden with blooming rose bushes (in November!). We observed Common Loons, Horned Grebes and all three types of Mergansers: Common, Red-Breasted, and Hooded. The cold and wind seemed more like January, but we enjoyed what turned out to be a sunny day. While we sat in contentment, a few Common Redpolls flew over.

Leaving Huron, we headed for Sherrod Park, where we looked out over Lake Erie watching the hundreds of Red-breasted Mergansers migrating though. Again we observed Horned Grebes, Common Loons, and a Common Goldeneye. At this point we decided to warm up with a hot meal at Burger King.

After lunch we headed for the Lorain Harbor and saw snow on the ground for the first time. The wind seemed to be picking up and temperatures were dropping as we walked out on the walkway on the pier, observing the birds of the day, Horned Grebes and Common Loons.

We next decided to head south to the Wellington Reservoir. Bluebirds greeted us as we exited our cars, and we quickly saw a Northern Flicker and Dark-eyed Juncos. The reservoir held a good assortment of waterfowl, mostly American Coots, Ruddy Ducks, and Canada Geese and, of course, Horned Grebes and Common Loons. We also saw Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, Red-breasted Mergansers and a Pied-billed Grebe. A park law enforcement vehicle pulled up and the officer said, “I’m going to have to ask you to leave for disturbing the wildlife”. He had our attention and it was clear he was joking. He got out of the vehicle and checked out the waterfowl, asking us if we’d seen anything unusual. Shortly there after another officer in a different vehicle drove by.

Our next stop was Funk Bottoms which has very low water levels and few birds. We also checked out the nearby Wilderness Road, where the highlight was a pair of Bald Eagles and a Great Blue Heron.

On the way back to Columbus, we stopped at Alum Lake Marina as the light was fading. We observed 25 Common Loons, a lone Killdeer hanging out with the usual gulls, Ruddy Ducks and Horned Grebes. These sightings brought our total to a satisfactory 48 species for the day; a complete list of species is shown below.

Canada Goose
America Black Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Red Phalarope
Bonaparte’s Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
White-breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Bluebird
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Harris’s Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Redpoll
American Goldfinch