The temperature finally dropped below 40 degrees for the last Avids trip of the millenium as seven hardy souls ventured northward in search of early winter birds. The day began at Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo where scouting reports boasted of boreal irruptives like white-winged and red crossbills, pine siskins, and common redpolls. We were not disappointed as we scoured the manicured scenery. The cemetery seemed filled with red-breasted nuthatches and it did not take long to find our quarry. It did, of course, take longer to get excellent looks at these species. We tallied three red crossbills (two females; one male) which were lifers for Steve Landes and John Lennon (two ticks), 30 white-winged crossbills which were also lifers for Steve and John (another two ticks), and 75 pine siskins which caught the eye of Steve for tick number five. We never did find any redpolls though.

Maumee Bay State Park was productive for raptors with two northern harriers, one red-tail, and three American kestrels. We were also treated to two horned larks, one American pipit, and 30 snow buntings on the beach. Our main target here though was the northern shrike which put on a show during the last Avids trip. It did not disappoint as it spent many minutes perched in the open. It did disappear for a time, but was relocated after a successful hunting mission. We watched as the bird flew out of the marsh with what we figured was a meadow vole and vanished into the woodlot. I wonder if that vole is skewered on a nice honey locust tree? This was a lifer for John, which brings us to six ticks thus far.

Huron Harbor was less of an attraction, but an immature bald eagle broke the monotony as it buzzed the large gull roost. The gull roost itself was rewarding, producing an adult lesser black-backed gull which made it onto John’s tick-list. Now we’re up to seven for the day.

We continued eastward, finally finding some waterfowl at Oberlin Beach and Sherrod Park. Although numbers and variety were low (it’s been that way all season) we managed to find five immature/female surf scoters at Oberlin Beach to the delight of all, especially Steve and John. Their two ticks brought the day’s total to nine where it remained. Not too bad for a December trip with only seven people.

Our final stop was the Avon Lake Power Plant where we were totally swarmed with gulls. The sight was unforgettable as we watched nearly 500,000 gulls (mostly ring-bills) wheel around in the waning light. Many of us commented that this was the largest concentration of gulls we have ever witnessed in Ohio. Some compared this to an event at Huron a couple of years ago. Although we found nothing spectacular here, we stood amazed and enjoyed the spectacle until the day faded into dusk.

Overall, we were able to locate 54 species on this 372 mile adventure.

Total Species: 54

A = Woodlawn Cemetery
B = Maumee Bay State Park
C = Huron Harbor
D = Oberlin Beach & Sherrod Park
E = Avon Lake Power Plant

R = Seen en route to that location

Avid Birders trip list 1999_12_11