Winter bird watching – Lake Erie

We had some great weather last weekend.  Perfect for a trip to  East 72nd Street near the Cleveland Public Power Plant for some birdwatching.  Even if the lake is completely frozen over, this and other spots where the warm water from the power plants discharge into the lake remain ice free, attracting many varieties of gulls and ducks.  Often there is a big die-off of “shad” from the shock of the temperature change and that attracts hordes of gulls.  One year there was such a large kill that the gulls were waddling around on the ice, so full they were no longer fighting for their share!   There was even a cat on shore trying to get his share that day.

If you’ve seen the movie, Finding Nemo, you will remember that the gull’s call was “Mine, Mine” and that’s exactly what they sound like! 

We saw a large variety of ducks including:  bufflehead, greater and lesser scaup, common goldeneye, redhead, canvasback.  There was one lone female common merganser sitting at the edge of the ice pack.  She was a pretty sight with her rusty crested head.  I was definitely wishing for a camera with a longer lens!  Dana got some great close-up shots.  You can see them on his blog, Mid Life Adventures.

There were also hundreds of gulls.  Now, about identifying gulls.  According to the report in the Plain Dealer, gull sightings here include herring, greater black-backed and ring bills, the common gulls around the lake.  Other more uncommon were glaucous, Thayer’s, great black-backed, Iceland, Bonaparte’s, and lesser black-backed.  I don’t pretend to be able to tell these gulls apart.  While they do look different, some juvenile species look like a completely different adult species.  I’m sure I saw some of them, but I couldn’t say for sure which, exept for the great black-backed and the herrings.  Gull identification is whole a separate category of bird watching.   

It was a great treat to see so many birds and such a variety in one spot on one day.

OK, definitely NOT avian.  Also saw 3 of these hardy (crazy!) souls flying along the lakefront.

Want to go?
Gordon Park, part of Cleveland Lakefront Park
E. 72nd Street exit off Route 2 east of Cleveland, Ohio

About SallyK

A little blog about the ordinary and not so ordinary things our family does, places we travel, things we see. Like travel, cooking, family stories, book reviews, music? You will find it all here - comments welcome!
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One Response to Winter bird watching – Lake Erie

  1. Pingback: lake erie bird watch | hgc clinics portland oregon

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