Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To Live's to Fly

This past weekend after attending the Ohio Young Birders Conference (more about this later), I was able to go on a Lake Erie pelagic trip along with many other birders. Usually at this time of year, a boat trip onto Lake Erie is a very cold experience, but we lucked out with some mild temperatures. The boat left from Cleveland and traveled east before cruising out into the lake then heading back west and inland to dock.

Juvenile Herring Gull

After cruising out of the channel and into Lake Erie, we followed a very long breakwall where we were able to watch a cooperative Peregrine Falcon. Knowing that a Purple Sandpiper was probably somewhere along this breakwall, I scanned with binoculars for about 15 or 20 minutes. Soon after, I got lazy and stopped scanning - and then somebody spotted one. I'm just lucky there were people on the boat that were not as lazy me. We were able to go back to the area it was spotted, and everyone got good looks. While still cruising east along the shore, we were able to spot a White-winged Scoter to go along with 4 Black Scoters we had seen while birding before getting to the boat.

Adult Herring Gull

For most of the time the boat was on the water, we chummed for gulls with very modest results. The numbers of gulls was impressive but the diversity was low with only four species seen. While heading north on the lake, we were able to spot a Pomarine Jaeger resting on the water. It didn't stick around long and took off flying past the boat. Not everybody was able to get good looks, but luckily I was able to see it well in flight.

When heading back in to dock we learned that there was a problem - a drawbridge over the channel that we needed to pass under to get back to the dock was stuck and the boat would not be able to get under it. So we docked somewhere else and had people taxied back over to where all the cars were. There positive side of this was spotting a Merlin. This was one of the most cooperative Merlins I have ever seen, and it stayed sitting on a pole in a parking lot while many birders stood below watching it.

It was a great trip and if you are ever able to go on one of these pelagics, don't miss the opportunity.


1 comment:

Chad said...

It was a nice trip! I am just glad they found the Purple Sandpiper... what a cool bird. And the Peregrine Falcon, and the Merlin.... just too much for a novice birder to handle at once! My son had a blast!