American Golden-Plover

The Columbus Avid Birders September trip is one that usually focuses on fall migration, and this year was no different. What was different was that apparently it was a busy weekend for birders, as only two people were at the Worthington Mall parking lot at 5:30 AM. Still, we are avid and the show must go on. The two birders made their way to northeast Ohio, on the tail end of a storm that passed through the state. [Editor’s note: the threatening weather may have had something to do with the attendance!]

The first stop was Headlands Beach State Park. Although somewhat quiet, we managed to find a small number of neotropical migrants in the trees lining the edge of the beach, including Chestnut-sided Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Canada Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and Least Flycatcher. Unfortunately, the beach was devoid of shorebirds, although a fly-by Great Black-backed Gull was a harbinger of trips in the near future to Lake Erie.

We then made brief stop at Euclid Beach, on the off-chance that the pair of American Avocets reported the previous day was still hanging around, but no such luck; so it was on to Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve. However, the birds were non-cooperative at this location, although we were able to add Mallards and a Cape May Warbler to the list. Although there were rumors of a Connecticut Warbler elsewhere in this location, we had a schedule to keep and moved on to Wendy Park and its famed woodlot. We were not able to relocate the Connecticut Warbler reported there the previous day, but a Mourning Warbler was a fine consolation prize, and we spent some time sorting through a migrant flock containing the following warblers: Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Magnolia, American Redstart, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, and Black-and-White Warbler.

Funk Bottoms
Funk Bottoms, private land that often provides good shorebird habitat.

One of the main goals of the trip was the Holmes County Swallow-tailed Kite, which would be a life bird for one of us. We cut our time in Cleveland short and made out way to a rural hilltop where the kite was often seen. We joined a few other birders, both Amish and “English”, and waited a while. Finally, the bird was spotted by an eagle-eyed young Amish birder cruising west of us, and moving south. While not the best views, it was identifiable and the Avids reputation of delivering life birds was upheld.

Wilderness Road was the next stop and we added a handful of shorebirds, including some beautiful American Golden-Plovers. A final stop was Funk Bottoms, where we observed a mixed flock of Barn and Bank Swallows and admired the beauty of the location. A dark grey sky behind us was all we needed to call it a day, and we made our way home through a line of thunderstorms.

Even though this may have been our least well-attended trip, we still managed to rack up 61 species of birds, including 14 species of warblers. Here’s the trip list:

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Golden-Plover
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
American Kestrel
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
European Starling
Eastern Bluebird
Swainson’s Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Black-and-white Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow