All the pretty birdies…

I am a casual bird watcher.  I would like to be an avid bird watcher, following all the rare bird alerts, religiously noting my sightings in my Life List.   Alas, at this point in my life more mundane tasks get in the way, such as work and chores and that life list, started but not maintained …  sigh.  However, every once in a while a special bird shows up right in front of me at the most unexpected moment.

It was a beautiful summer Saturday, perfect for the road trip I had been craving all summer.  Dana (aka “Hubby”) has a new car and it was time to break it in.  Hubby and I headed east along the Lake Erie shoreline with our final destination being Conneaut Harbor, last stop before crossing the border into Pennsylvania.   We’ve visited this harbor several times but it seems we are usually there in the fall and winter.  This glorious summer day the harbor was a busy place, with people enjoying all forms of water sports – swimming, boating, skiing.  We found a section of the beach we could drive onto (to break in the new SUV, you know) and behind it was a small pool.  I saw a guy with a camera focusing a looooong lens on something in the pool.  I have learned from experience that this and people peering through spotting scopes means something special is around.  He left before I could ask him what he was looking at but the targets were not hard to find.  Two American Avocets were enjoying the abundance of  Northeastern Ohio on their way south for the winter.  One was busy picking out tasty treats from the bottom of the pool, the other appeared to be napping with its head tucked behind it’s wing, posing on one leg.

American Avocets at Conneaut Harbor, Ohio August 13, 2011

 At the time, I was not sure what I was looking at.  I took some photos and came home to identify my find using AllAboutBirds.Org.    I searched under shore birds but noted that the American Avocet’s territory does not include Ohio.  Was this a rare sighting?   Since I saw other birders coming in with their equipment as I was leaving I was pretty sure someone had noted this find on the web and I was not disappointed.  Several others had already posted their sightings in Conneaut Harbor allowing me to confirm that I had indeed seen my first ever American Avocets!   I learned that  these beautiful shore birds are appearing more often in Ohio, possibly due to destruction of habitat in other areas and climate change.  We observed them for about 1/2 an hour, they did not seem to even notice they had company.

Over all it was a good day for wildlife.  We saw barn swallows flitting around the harbor boats and many gulls on the shore, in the air and water.  Mallard ducks and Canadian geese shared the pool with the Avocets.  We crossed the border into PA and at the Elk Creek Access area of Erie Bluffs State Park we saw a fox and a small buck deer.  I also heard but did not see a Great Blue Heron beyond the creek.   I can’t wait to return to this area and see what else might turn up.

Following are more photos of our fun day along the lakeshore.  I hope you will share your most special bird or wildlife sighting in the comments.

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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!
This entry was posted in Birdwatching, Nature, Ohio, photography, Summer, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to All the pretty birdies…

  1. Reggie says:

    Ooh, well spotted, Sally! What a lovely area to visit. I rather like the barn swallows – pretty colouring; we don’t have them here, I think. Just a question – do ‘barn swallows’ not occur only in farmland? Why are they in the harbour? Are they just resting there on their way somewhere?

    • SallyK says:

      Reggie: All About Birds says barn swallows are “Found in many habitats with open areas for foraging and structures for nesting, including agricultural areas, cities, and along highways. Needs mud for nest building.” When most of our country was open farm land barns were the building of choice for nesting and that’s probably how they got their name. However, habitat has changed and I would say the large boat storage and repair buildings in harbors are probably perfect for their purpose! And of course there is plenty of mud on the lakeshore and inlets. They are summer residents here but go south for the winter. Wish I could follow them! Thanks for stopping by…

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