Thursday, May 3, was the most gorgeous day so far this year with a record high for the North Coast of 88 degrees! Hurray, Yippee, Woohoo! After dinner I asked Andy if he would like to go up to the beach with me and look for birds. I was surprised when he answered with an enthusiastic Yes! Andy is a creature of habit and doesn’t usually like his evening routine changed but I guess even he was celebrating the lovely weather.
We parked at the eastern end of Headlands State Park. This is Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, an area of woodlands, underbrush and protected sand dunes. Spring migrants are moving north now, taking a rest and feeding at Headlands before they make the big fly over Lake Erie. All week I had been reading birding reports from Headlands so I hoped we would see some of the warblers others birders were reporting.
I started Andy off easy. The first bird we saw was an American Robin, a common Ohio bird, and I made sure he trained his binocs on it and zeroed in. When I thought he was ready, we headed into the Dunes.
We were not disappointed. There were little birdies everywhere, twittering overhead, flitting through the underbrush, working over the ground for every tasty tidbit hidden there. Here’s a list of the birds we saw. I’m sure there are more we did not. The starred ones are new for my life list.
- American Robin
- Northern Cardinal
- Orchard Oriole
- Pine Warbler *
- Gray Catbird
- Female Yellow Warbler *
- Brown Thrasher
- Golden Winged Warbler *
In spite of the low light and the speed of the birds, I did get photos of a couple of species:
It was such a beautiful evening and we had such a great time. I complimented Andy on how quiet he had been and how diligently he looked for birds. As we left the sun was setting in the west and moon was rising through the trees.
Earlier, as we were entering the open area of the Dunes, we had a lovely encounter with a fellow birder. I asked him what he had been seeing and if he knew what a certain bird was I had spotted. I had forgotten my bird guide but he had his and showed me a picture of a yellow rumped warbler. There were several of those in the underbrush and it was the bird I had seen.
He said his name was Pat and I introduced myself and Andy. He seemed very interested in Andy and then he told me he has a 6 year old grandson with Down syndrome. Pat told me a little bit about his grandson, who loves sports, and I told him that Andy loves music. He asked me how old Andy is and when I told him I think maybe he was envisioning a future where his grandson birds with him. Andy had again become an ambassador for individuals with Down syndrome. The whole encounter was a wonder to me – the fact that I almost did not even ask Andy if he wanted to go and then his enthusiasm for the trip makes me know it was meant to be. I hope to see Pat and his grandson at the Dunes someday, binoculars pressed to their eyes and smiles on their faces!