Rufous Hummingbird - Photo Bruce Satta

Seven observant birders met at the Worthington Mall for our outing to northeastern Ohio, where three additional birders joined our entourage.

Avids search for Ammodrammus at Wake Robin - Photo Andy Sewell
Avids search for Ammodrammus sparrows, including Nelson’s Sparrow, in the early morning at Wake Robin. Photo Andy Sewell

Controversial Sparrow -- Song Sparrow or Swamp Sparrow - Photo Lisa Phelps
Controversial Sparrow — Is It a Song Sparrow or a Swamp Sparrow? Even the Avids can’t identify every bird! – Photo Lisa Phelps

At Wake Robin, which is part of the Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, several of us were treated to glimpses of the elusive Nelson’s Sparrow. With 10 individuals in our group, it proved impossible for all to observe this target bird despite over an hour of trying. (A number of other non-Avid Birders were present as well.) Overall very few sparrows were present, but we saw a few more including Song, White-crowned, White-throated and Swamp Sparrows. Lisa Phelps found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo perched across the water, which all were able to view. Three Pied-billed Grebes swam in the water, Northern Flickers flew overhead and a pair of Red-tailed Hawks put on an aerial display. A Marsh Wren was observed by most. James Muller spotted a Philadelphia Vireo amid a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers.  A flyover Bald Eagle was the only eagle of the day.

Next stop: Headlands Beach. We walked out to the beach and were disappointed in the lack of birds, which we attributed to 10 to 15 mph winds. The only birds we saw were the omnipresent Ring-billed Gulls, a few Herring Gulls and Double Crested Cormorants. Some observed a single Lincoln’s Sparrow and Golden-crowned Kinglets.  The lack of warblers surprised us. Since there were no other reports of species of interest to us, we decided to head inland for more sheltered spots and add to our lists.

Fish Crow in Garfield Heights, Ohio - Photo Lisa Phelps
Fish Crow in Garfield Heights, Ohio – Photo Lisa Phelps

We found the flock of Fish Crows in Garfield Heights calling and flying around the trees on the service road across from the Kmart and Marc’s.  Several apartment dwellers gave the ten of us the evil eye, but we refused to be dissuaded from watching the flight pattern of these birds. Shortly after leaving the area, we saw an American Crow in flight for comparison.

Rufous Hummingbird - Photo Bruce Satta
Rufous Hummingbird – Photo Bruce Satta

Next we decided to check out the Rufous Hummingbird which was banded this week, confirming its identity. We arrived at the Amish farm where the bird had been seen and were shortly treated to the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, an Eastern Phoebe, Chipping Sparrow and various other birds. But we were getting worried: had the Rufous Hummingbird, a rare fall and winter visitor from western North America, gone on its way? Much to our relief, the Rufous finally showed up at the feeder, then commenced preening in a nearby mulberry bush. It flew back to the feeders, perched in a hemlock, back to the feeders, and eventually perched in a lilac, which allowed the photographers among us to take some nice shots. It was a life bird for several members of our group.

Eastern Phoebe - Photo Bruce Satta
Eastern Phoebe – Photo Bruce Satta

Bruce Satta and Donna Kuhn at Wake Robin - Photo Lisa Phelps
Bruce and Donna at Wake Robin ponder the eternal birders’ question: should we stay or should we go? – Photo Lisa Phelps

It was getting late in this shorter fall day and we had a long drive back to Columbus, so we decided to finish up and head for home.

More of Lisa Phelps’ photos from the trip can be seen on her Flickr album for the trip.

Our list of 48 species seen on the trip follows:

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Philadelphia Viroe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Nelson’s Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-crowned Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow