Groundhog’s Day Birding

From Donna Kuhn

Five Avid birders showed up for our 15 hour trip. We dispensed with the planned itinerary and decided to start at the Fulton county Snowy Owl site, three hours away. On arrival we were unable to relocate the owl. We did see a couple Snow Buntings at the side of the road with Horned Larks and a Lapland Longspur. We searched the agricultural fields diligently, but the Snowy Owl did not make an appearance. When 3 hunters descended on the field, from different directions, we decided to move on.

Long-tailed Ducks and white-winged gull reports from Miller road at Avon

Long-tailed Duck by Lisa Phelps

Long-tailed Duck by Lisa Phelps

Lake led us to make it our next stop. On arrival the Long-tailed Ducks did not disappoint. We observed two females and a male in breeding plumage right off the pier. They we demonstrating very proficient fishing skills, diving and coming up with a fish which they promptly swallowed. A nice assortment of ducks included Canvasbacks, Redheads, Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, both Scaup and Common Goldeneyes. Among the few hundred mostly Herring Gulls, we were able to pick out an Iceland, Lesser-black Backed and a single adult Glaucous Gull flew past. Over a dozen Great Black-backed Gulls were lounging on the ice. The pier was covered with several inches of ice, even the vertical sections of the railings and benches were coated with thick ice. A Bald Eagle soared over the gulls, causing them to lift off, helping our

Diving ducks by Lisa Phelps

Canvasback and Lesser Scaup by Lisa Phelps

identification efforts. It was hard to tear ourselves away from the beautiful black, brown and white Long-tailed Ducks, especially the male with his namesake tail.

The 40 degree temperature and sunshine made for comfortable birding. But it is still winter, and Cleveland is the traditional Avid gull site, so we headed for Scranton Flats, as the lake was reportedly frozen. The river was partially

Peregrine Falcon by Lisa Phelps

Peregrine Falcon by Lisa Phelps

frozen with just a few gulls. A male Canvasback provided point blank looks at his big black bill and dazzling white back. A cooperative Peregrine Falcon perched high on the drawbridge provided satisfying scope views. We did not see a groundhog, but we did see a beaver waddling up the river bank. With the sun and light fading we headed back to Columbus. 39 species for the day. And in true ground hog movie tradition, I returned to find the Snowy Owl the next day!

30 Species for the day:

Canada Goose
Mallard
American Black Duck
Canvasback
Redhead
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Long-tailed Duck
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
American Robin
European Starling
Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
House Sparrow